Case Studies
From Security and Intelligence Service to Slovene Intelligence and Security Agency
(Volume 3, Number 1-2, Spring-Summer 2002.)
03 svi 2002 05:45:00

Drago Ferš, Former Director
Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency



The government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia signed a protocol on accession of Yugoslavia to the Third Pact - that is, on joining the Nazi and Fascist axis - on March 25, 1941. As soon as the protocol was signed, the Communist Party called the people to action, and from March 25-27, mass demonstrations under the slogans "Bolje rat nego pakt" (better war than the pact) and "Bolje grob nego rob" (better the grave than a slave) took place throughout the country. Outraged, Hitler ordered his generals to attack immediately and dismember Yugoslavia. On April 6, 1941, without a prior declaration of war, the German, Italian, Hungarian, and Bulgarian forces invaded Yugoslavia and defeated the Yugoslav Army in twelve days. On April 17, 1941, Yugoslav General Radoje Jankovie and the former Foreign Minister, Cincar Markovia, signed an act of unconditional surrender which took force at noon the following day, April 18. The epilogue: Yugoslavia vanished in a matter of days: the Germans, Italians, Bulgarian and Hungarians had virtually dismembered it.1

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On April 27, 1941, a popular political movement, the Liberation Front (OF), was established on the initiative of the Communist Party of Slovenia, with the task of organizing a struggle against the occupier. The OF was established by four political groups: the Communist Party of Slovenia, the Christian Democrats, the Slovene Sokol (Hawk) Association, and the cultural workers. In autumn of 1941, they were joined by several smaller political groups. The highest OF authority was the Supreme Plenum (constituted on June 15, 1941) which on Sept.16, 1941, proclaimed itself the Slovene National Liberation Committee (SNOO). From June until the end of 1941, the OF drafted its national liberation program and announced it would take power once the war was over and install a people's democracy in Slovenia. After the capitulation of Italy, they called for assembly elections of the Slovene nation in Koeevje (October 1-10, 1943) and elected the OF 120-member plenum and the ten-member Executive Committee, which represented both the SNOO and the SNOO Presidency, merging into the political and the administrative authority. The foundations of Slovene statehood were laid between February 19-20, 1944 in Ernomelj with the election of the Slovene National Liberation Council (SNOS) as the highest Slovenian representative body and the SNOS Presidency as the National Committee of Liberation of Slovenia (NKOS), which assumed the functions of the government and formed the commissariats, commissions, and other state bodies. On May 5, 1945, the SNOS issued the Act on National Government, which was presented in Ljubljana on May 10, 1945.

Thus the OF, which initially had only political connotations, expanded quickly into an administrative authority in order to enable it to adopt normative acts of authoritative nature, serving as the basis for the activity of its other bodies.

Since we intend here only to discuss the origins and development of the intelligence and security bodies in Slovenia, we will not address other areas of OF activity or the development of state bodies.

Establishment of NZ (National Protection)

Immediately after its establishment, the OF answered the call of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Slovenia (CK KPS)2 by issuing a special directive about national protection and called for the establishment of Village Guards and National Protection in towns and boroughs. Given the political significance of the National Guards, the OF supreme plenum, after having changed into the SNOO, issued a decree on the protection of the Slovene nation, its liberation movement, and unification, which provided a legal and factual basis for the sanctioning authority. At the same time, the OF leadership issued a resolution on the establishment of the National Protection. The first organizers of National Protection were the party's military desk officers, and it got into full swing during the winter of 1941-42, developing most quickly in the area around Ljubljana. It was established to serve as the armed defender of the Slovene nation against the aggression of the occupier, with the task of impeding arrests, requisitions, and deportations of the Slovenes, colonization of foreigners, burning of villages, and other acts of violence.3

Establishment of VOS (Security and Intelligence Service)

In addition to the National Protection, the Security Intelligence Service (VOS) was established, at the Initiative and under the explicit patronage of the CK KPS. It was given special powers in the struggle against the fifth column, traitors, and enemy intelligence services. It also collected information about the movements and activities of occupying troops and traitors. The VOS was comprised of the most trusted members of the KPS.

VOS activities are best described by a passage from a letter (29 March 29, 1942) by a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Edvard Kardelj, to the General Secretary, Josip Broz Tito: "The whole machinery actually consists of party members and our people will not let it go nor permit its being controlled. It is comprised of two parts: the intelligence service and the executive apparatus. The leadership is united, and consists of secretaries of the two parties and the head of the service, who is directly tied to the CK. The amount of intelligence work is immense, and numerous reports arrive daily to district intelligence stations. They even have a tidy file about people they watch, follow, etc. They have "agents provocateurs" in the White Guards organizations, etc. Thanks to this really unique apparatus they are extremely well-informed about everything and have already foiled attempts to infiltrate provocateurs into the KP and OF. This apparatus functions much better than the OVRA or GESTAPO in Ljubljana. They have already collected precious military information (Italian and German airfields, ammunition depots, fortifications), although it was Gaš that has fallen with them, which is what lies most heavy on him. The execution unit consists of approximately fifty men, armed with revolvers and hand grenades and well-trained. They have started now to increase their number due to the increasing Italian terror and the White Guards actions.4 These boys do all kinds of things. Let me cite a few examples: informers and occupier's servants are falling almost daily, etc. Police protection is not sufficient for those who are targeted by the VOS people. They come to a restaurant with revolvers, tell the people there to raise their hands in order to identify them if they are looking for somebody; arrest people on the streets, whisk them away and interrogate them (the arrested dare not call the Italians for help, because the OF issued a decree stating that anybody who turns to the occupier for help will be shot immediately), search the White Guards houses, ransack and burn the White Guards supplies, interrogate Gestapo members during the night ( in the center of Ljubljana), etc. For instance, they raided the illegal printing press of Draža's people, and seized the printing machine and characters they are using to print the OF material, and 130 kilograms of paper. They interrogated three "printers" who admitted everything, then they burned everything they had printed, loaded the material into the car, and drove off. This is also how they apprehended some White Guards couriers who were carrying leaflets against us; they seized the leaflets and beat the couriers. Similar actions are being taken by the National Protection, although they are more of a military nature. The "security service" is feared like hell, but it is precisely this service and the National Protection and partisans - the OF - which give the authority its real power.... The security service has become so famous that nobody they target can escape…the Italian police has been pretty helpless, considering that the VOS people enjoys great support from the people, and the traitors are afraid to show themselves."

The VOS functioned as a specialized organization focused on collecting information from the OF through field committees in which "particularly trustworthy comrades were in charge of organizing the massive intelligence service." All information on "suspects collaborating in the conspiracy against the nation" and on "all Slovenes who collaborated with the Germans, Italians and anti-national conspirators and the fifth column"5 was collected there.

From 1941-42, the VOS was active in Ljubljana and Novo Mesto. In other areas, it was still in its early stages.

Establishment of the Military Intelligence Service

Due to the need for intelligence and information on the movements, strength, and activity of the occupiers, the Main Command of the Slovene partisan troops was formed late in 1941, and in 1942, a body of three members who were to establish the military intelligence service to serve the needs of the NOV (National Liberation Army) and the PO of Slovenia. Initially, the military intelligence service was to be organized independently, but experience showed that it would be best to organize it the same way as the civil intelligence service. Intelligence centers collecting information and data from the Party and OF organizations were established within the operative units. The area of activity included "all information of relevance for the Headquarters."

In order to expand intelligence activities throughout Slovenia, the CK KPS ordered the immediate formation of the KPS Provincial Committee for the Littoral so that it could "spread its network as soon as possible in Trieste, where extremely important information was to be had."6

At the same time, on November 27, 1942, the Supreme Commander of the NOV and PO of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, gave a special order to the General Staff of the NOV and PO of Slovenia to start organizing intelligence services in the Slovene Army. The order specifies the establishment, within the GS, of a central intelligence center for Slovenia, with four auxiliary intelligence centers (for Upper, Continental, Lower Carniola, and Ljubljana). The auxiliary intelligence centers would be divided into districts and then into municipal or village commissariats. The division, brigade, and battalion centers would be set up in the operative units, whereas commissariats would be established at the company level or lower. The intelligence center would be set up within the area command on the liberated territory and within the town command in the town center, the latter in charge of organizing and expanding the intelligence service within the village national liberation committees, functioning through their commissars. The order also ordered special "intelligence reports to be made every seven days" to meet the needs of the Supreme Staff.

A reply arrived from Edvard Kardelj on Jan 17, 1943, by order of the Supreme Commander: :"We got your orders, but our intelligence service has been structured somewhat differently up to now, which is why we kindly ask that you give us an answer regarding this question. Within the CK KPS, we have had the "Intelligence and Security Service Center", which is in the process of merging the two branches of intelligence: military and civil. The military is organized according to the system you propose, and the civil according to the party's organizational network. It has its people in the OF organizations and elsewhere. The "special sectors" (occupying army, White Guards, Mihajlovia's men, the police, etc.) refer to the Center. This center sent its agents out, and Angelo (Ivan Maeek Matija) will tell you more about that. I hope we will soon get results there which will also be important for you. We have done this at the request of the Director (it has a secret for the Comintern Intelligence Center) and we have directly connected our center through Stevo (Ivan Krejaeie). We achieved success in Ljubljana, but the apparatus doesn't yet exist in the field. We are going to finish building it up in both branches, according to your instructions. I think it would be the best if things stayed the way they are, especially because of the OF. This is precisely why we transferred this network - along with the army - directly to the Party. Our center will keep sending you reports. Angelo is going to bring two reports. Neither will be of interest to you, although there are some passages you should read (the issue of Italy, 2nd front, and the presence of the Bulgarian Army in Italy). Apart from the sectors you propose, we have set up also the intelligence service for the Littoral and Trieste (the Gorica Center). You will surely be in agreement with this. As regards the rest, we will follow your orders. Let us know if you agree with such a system. Let me reiterate: the intelligence center of the CK KPS here is above the intelligence center of the General Staff, and merges army intelligence (according to your system) with the civil (which you do not mention)."

Building on and Enlarging VOS

The order of the Supreme Commander of the NOV and PO of Yugoslavia and the realization that the existing methods of the VOS in Slovenia did not meet requirements induced the CK KPS to prescribe special "Instructions for Building Up the Intelligence Service in the Field and in the Army".7 The instructions called for the completion of two tasks within the VOS organization:

a) the VOS must be perfected to support through its intelligence activity the military and political struggle against the occupier. It is not meant to penetrate espionage, but should become "the action weapon of the liberation struggle for the destruction of the enemy on its own positions by special methods intrinsic to the nature of the VOS";

b) the VOS must become a strong weapon which will deter all attempts of the enemies of the Slovene nation to impose national or any other kind of repression". The instruction describes the VOS as a popular liberation movement guided by the people's democratic rule, and it is to carry out all the tasks assigned by the OF. As such, the VOS is therefore "the most vulnerable sector of the liberation battle and only the highest KP leadership can be involved in its activities".... This means that the appropriate Party organizations must directly supervise and conduct VOS activities in the interest of the entire OF". The instruction states that the intelligence and security service, in the field and the army, will be led by the VOS Central Committee, which is directly accountable to the CK KPS and CK KPJ and to whom both report. The VOS central commission supervised and controlled two autonomous areas:

The VOS field sector (overseen by the VOS Central Commission)
The NOV and PO intelligence sector (led by the Main Intelligence Sector within the Main Command of the SNOV and PO) which was composed of the intelligence and counter-espionage center.

The military intelligence service was formed after the capitulation of Italy and the liberation of vast territories, as they requested continual defense. The NOV and PO General Staff of Slovenia therefore issued the "Decree on Setting Up a VOS Battalion"8 to secure Koeevski Rog. Other "special VOS detachments to oppose the fifth column, espionage, treason and other enemy actions were established in the rear under direct command of the General Staff, though they actually represented the well-armed VOS executive."

Abolishment of VOS and Establishment of the Internal Affairs Section (NZ Section)

The Slovene concept of intelligence and security, therefore, developed under specific circumstances; namely, during the building of Slovene statehood. The peculiarities which can be observed especially in distinguishing the political organization from the organization of state bodies and in the independent development of the highest Slovene state bodies, expressed themselves fully after the OF session in Crnomelj when the SNOO was transformed into the SNOS. The separation of the political organization from the state body was dictated by time, since the responsible people were then expecting that the war would be over by the fall of 1944. Namely, upon liberation it was urgently necessary to present themselves at home and to the world with as prefect as possible organization of all authority bodies. During preparations for the session in Crnomelj, the OF executive committee, which was also acting as the SNOO Presidency (February 1944), proposed a re-organized SNOS Presidency, along with the others9, and a section for internal affairs to which all security-intelligence services would submit. That Act disempowered the VOS as a special agency with special authorization and powers. The SNOS adopted three decrees in March 1944, by which internal affairs were regulated: the establishment of district stations of internal affairs sections; assigning armed forces to the internal affairs section; and the introduction and organization of the National Protection. The district stations merged intelligence and National Protection divisions. Intelligence officers of the disbanded OF VOS went to the intelligence division, while former security officials and guards comprised the new, armed formation, the Army of State Security (VDV).

The armed forces VDV was assigned to the internal affairs section, but it was also part of the National Liberation Army of Slovenia. The first organizational structure of the internal affairs section was also created in March 1944. It was composed of four divisions: National Protection Division, Intelligence and Records Division, Division of the VDV Command, and Foreign Entities. This structure remained unchanged throughout the activity of the section and until the establishment of the National Protection Department (OZNA).

The internal affairs section composed the so-called BASE 24.

By establishing the internal affairs section within the NOS presidency, the NOV and POS completed the organization of the intelligence service in the army and established the intelligence division which had a sections in the army, in the field, and abroad. The division also contained a section for education, communications, administration, and intelligence officers.

Establishment of OZNA

Organization of the intelligence services continued until August 1944, when the President of the National Committee of Liberation of Yugoslavia (NKOJ)10, Josip Broz Tito, issued (May 13, 1944) the Directive on Organizational Structure of the National Protection Department (OZNA). This directive prescribed the system of reorganization of the intelligence and security system of the national liberation movement in Yugoslavia. Edvard Kardelj was the first to inform the Slovene political players of the preparations to establish OZNA as an all-Yugoslav organization ( May 5, 1944).11 He wrote that the Yugoslavian party leadership had decided to resolve the question of the fifth column in a different way than had been done in Slovenia. This sector would be removed from the internal affairs commissariat and be subordinated to the national defense commissariat, remaining within the military organizations. Kardelj wrote further that there would be only two divisions left in the interior commissariat: the administrative and the militia. He pointed out that the term militia was introduced in Slovenia to avoid confusing it with the newly established section opposing the fifth column, the OZNA12.

Until OZNA was established, intelligence and security tasks were carried out by several organizations. In spring,1944, the tasks were carried out by the Section for Protection of Nations in central and western Bosnia, part of Croatia, and Vojvodina; centers of territorial intelligence in Croatian Vojvodina and Montenegro; intelligence division of the Internal Affairs Section within the SNOS Presidency in Slovenia; and intelligence service of partisan detachments in Serbia, Macedonia, and Kosovo. The reorganization of intelligence and security could not satisfy the growing needs of the Supreme Staff. OZNA was created as autonomous, military organization whose unitary structure and centralized leadership were to ensure a tough political line in the intelligence and counter-intelligence services. All OZNA tasks were divided into four groups, each comprising an organizational unit.

The first section (intelligence) organized intelligence activity in other countries, enemy state institutions, and occupied territory. It recruited agents and sent them to work outside the borders of the liberated territory. It collected intelligence on enemy agent networks, police, quisling state machinery, and quisling military units. This was essentially an offensive intelligence service, directed against foreign countries and occupied territory.

The second section (counterintelligence service in the liberated territory) collected information from trusted informers on political groups which had either joined the national liberation movement or stayed outside it, on enemy agent activities, and on armed groups of national traitors and fifth columnists.

The third section organized counter-intelligence protection of armed forces and was active only in the NOV and PO.

The fourth section performed statistical and technical tasks, processed information, and kept records. This section also included special photography, secret writing, radio centers, and decoders.

A fifth and sixth section were formed in OZNA in March and April,1945.

The fifth section was formed as a counterintelligence service against foreign agent networks in Yugoslavia; that is, foreign intelligence services. (In 1946, this section merged with the new third section, which was created after the military counterintelligence service became independent).

The sixth section performed tasks dealing with counter-intelligence protection of transportation, but was absorbed soon after its establishment by the second sector.

When the National Liberation Army changed its name into the Yugoslav Army on March 1, 1945, the OZNA of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia proclaimed by special directive ( March 24,1945) a new organization of the Yugoslav Army - OZNA. OZNA was in direct command of counter-intelligence protection of military command posts, institutions, and units. Sections were set up within independent corps. In this way, the OZNA section for the authority of the 7th Corps in Slovenia was subordinated to the third section of OZNA for Slovenia. This third OZNA section was in force until the end of July, 1945, when the "military" and "civil" part of OZNA began to separate and finally split in March, 1946. At that time, the Administrative Directorate for Security of Yugoslav Army was formed from the "military part" and the Administrative State Security Directorate from the "civil part.

Since OZNA was actually left without its third section after the military counterintelligence service became independent, it formed a new third section unconnected to the previous one. It focused initially on reconstruction and operations of the German intelligence service (especially GESTAPO). Later, the third section assumed operations for all foreign intelligence services, borders, and traffic of foreigners (which were essentially the tasks of the fifth section).

After the establishment of the Corps of National Defense of Yugoslavia (KNOJ) on August 15, 1944, the VDV units merged with it. The first was the Slovene Division of National Defense. KNOJ was established as the armed military formation which took over the task of protecting liberated territory and the NOV hinterland. KNOJ was subordinated to the OZNA directorate.

Directly tied to the first OZNA section for Slovenia were the intelligence organizations in Ljubljana and Trieste, which, due to special circumstances, did not reorganize according to OZNA instructions, but followed the principles of the OF VOS. The first OZNA section for Slovenia was given the special task of monitoring the situation in Istra and northern Italy because of the expected disembarkation of Anglo-American troops. A special line for Austria and Germany, operating in Styria, was formed in the OZNA section to collect military information on the approaching front, and the activities of German intelligence services in Styria.

A special "CC" line was also formed in the second section to collect information on fellow partisan combatants. Gradually it was transformed and focused exclusively on the so-called "internal enemy".

The third section directed the surveillance of British, American, and Czech missions at the Slovene GS and at staffs of Zone Corps. It also monitored paratroopers who came to the NOV from the English intelligence service.

The fourth section continued filing information they had been collected within the OF VOS since 1941. From initial information files on 4,000 people, by the end of the war the number had increased to 17,750.

OZNA was led by a chief13 who was directly subordinate to the Supreme Commander.

Redesignation to UDV

In spring 1945, OZNA was focused on the approaching military defeat of the occupying forces, so in March, 1045, the OZNA leadership started transferring tasks and cadres to posts they would occupy when the partisan troops marched into liberated Slovene towns. Every OZNA member knew before the liberation where he would go and what duties he would assume. It immediately occupied the headquarters of the enemy's intelligence and police organizations, seized and secured the archives, and started arresting enemy agents and hostile elements. Simultaneously, they started working under new structures appropriate for the post-war period. After its arrival in Ljubljana, the OZNA occupied the premises of the former bank SLAVIJA and started consolidating the organization throughout Slovenia, particularly in Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje, Novo mesto, Trieste, and Gorica. After withdrawal of the Yugoslav army from Trieste and zone A (on 12 June 1945), a new OZNA was organized for the eastern littoral district, with headquarters in Ajdovšeina.

OZNA and the State Security Directorate (UDV) underwent after 1946 many security and intelligence changes due to topical issues at that time: fighting gangs; protection of the economy; Cominform; and bureaucratic aspirations)

In 1945 and 1946, for instance, the UDV was organized into districts, and in 1947 (when the territory of the People's Republic of Slovenia was divided into counties and localities) into towns, districts, and localities. In 1950, when the administrative-territorial units were abolished as authorities (see the Act on abolishment of authority, LRS Off. Gazette no. 4/51), the UDV reorganized again.

The intelligence and security activities focussed during this period less on intelligence and more on security issues. There was an emphasis on collectivism, equality, brotherhood, social harmony, long term prospects, loyalty, and tolerance towards those with different views. Deviation from this set of values became an immediately issue for security services.

Later, the use of force was mitigated and when the process of "decentralization of people's power" began, intelligence and security services underwent further reorganization in order to deconcentrate power and increase effectiveness. The Act on Internal Affairs (FLRJ Off. Gaz. No. 30/56) and the Decree on Organization of State Internal Affairs Secretariat (SRS Off. Gaz. No. 10/59) regulated the intelligence security authority in Slovenia as the prerogative of the State Security Directorate within the Ministry of the Interior. The next reorganization addressed issues within the competence of the federation (state security, cross-border traffic, foreign citizens, passports, introduction and dissemination of foreign press, and federal citizenship).

From 1963 - 74, security intelligence services dealt with a series of domestic and foreign political events. At home, there were political confrontation both before and after the Brioni Plenum (1966), liberal flareups and massive demonstrations in Belgrade (1969), "MASPOK" (mass movement) in Croatia (1971), an incursion of a group of nationalists (Raduša, 1972), and a revival of national awareness in Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, and Slovenia. The most significant event abroad was the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia (1968).

These were the circumstances at the time the first act on internal affairs of the Republic of Slovenia was adopted in 1967(SRS Off. Gaz. No. 13/67). According to this act, internal affairs were handled directly by the municipal administrative bodies and the republic secretariat of internal affairs or by their provincial bodies. This was the first time after 1945 that Slovenia gained control and greater influence over its security organs and intelligence security service. The State Security Service (SDV) was defined by law as a professional service within the republic secretariat of internal affairs (RSNZ). Naturally, most of its competence remained within federal institutions, as prescribed by the Act on Handling Internal Affairs Under Competence of Federal Administrative Bodies (1971), which determined that the federal secretariat of internal affairs coordinate the work of the SDV in the republics and provinces. Further steps were taken with the transformation of state administration, adoption of the federal act on state administration (1978), and the republic act (1978). The newly adopted act on internal affairs tasked the Republic Secretariat of Internal Affairs (RSNZ) with state security issues, which then became RSNZ issues and were no longer given special handling "at the RSNZ". This resolution remained in force until the 1991 modifications of the act on internal affairs.

Intelligence and security activity was organized in the following manner:

- After OZNA was abolished, intelligence activity was divided among various federal ministries: the Federal Ministry of the Interior by the State Security Directorate, i.e. Service14; and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Service of Investigation and Documentation (SID), which collected foreign political information; military-defense intelligence was handled by the GS 2nd Department.
- The Slovene SDV was not autonomous, but was tied to the federal service which co-ordinated the work and issued instructions.
- State security was regulated by secret legislation (secret Official Gazette), which prescribed the use of special operations. The SDV performed house searches, covert interceptions inside the premises, telecommunications interception, covert surveillance of people, and covert interception of letters and other consignments.
- Of primary interest to the SDV was the domestic - identifying and obstructing activities of the "domestic enemy" (i.e. the "bourgeois rightwing", clericalists, members of the Cominform, nationalists, and separatists). Intelligence work abroad was deemed less important and was under federal control. It is interesting to note that an independent intelligence directorate was not established until 1991.
- The SDV was a "political police", answerable to the party organization from which it received its guidelines and to which it reported. The SDV was so deeply rooted in the political system that one of its tasks was the preparation of "Political Security Assessments"; that is, assessments on literally all spheres of life.
- During its activity, the SDV enjoyed a wide range of power, including classical police powers (identifications, interrogations, and arrests).
- The SDV organization was constantly changing and making improvements, but it remained tied to the central unit in Ljubljana and smaller working groups in the field. All information and data flowed into the central unit in Ljubljana and sent on from there to the users. Field groups had working contacts with the local authorities, but did not answer to them.

The role of Slovene intelligence and security changed after 1986, when a different mentality reigned within the Party and the processes of democratization were initiated. The situation was different in other parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Intelligence security activities began to come under attack, and people started writing about and criticizing the SDV. There were no more taboo subjects. The party organization was abolished in the SDV and the first attempts to introduce political, i.e. parliamentary, control began.

The Slovene SDV also had the role of protecting the Slovene political authorities and at the same time had to exist within the multi-national Yugoslav community. The Slovene party and higher administration were the primary consumers of information by the republic SDV, which explains why the SDV came into conflict with the federal bodies. The conflict between federal and republic interests forced the republic bodies to make more decisions to protect the constitutional order, which had been thus far sacrosanct. In 1985 the Presidency of SR of Slovenia adopted a resolution banning the SDV from acting against the republic's political authorities (that is, against the President and members of the SRS Presidency, CK ZKS Presidency, assembly spokesman, executive council, presidents of the RK SZDL, RS ZSS, TO ZZB NOV and president of the RK ZSMS). The council for the protection of the constitutional order expanded the resolution and extended protection from the SDV to the entire leadership when it ordered that the Republic Secretary of Internal Affairs was required to gain the consensus of the Council for activities against presidents and members of the presidencies of the social-political organizations in the Republic (SZDL, ZSS, ZZB, ZSMS); vice presidents of the SRS Assembly; union trade presidents; vice presidents and members of the SSRS Executive Council; members of the Republic Council; president of the SRS Constitutional Court; president of the SRS Court of United Labor; SRS public prosecutor; SRS social custodian of self management; SRS public custodian; and president of the SRS Commercial Chamber.

The republic leadership thus protected itself against the intervention of the SDV which by then was no longer ideologically unified owing to changes in personnel and multinational and heterogeneous cadres. This was the first time the political and Party leadership of Slovenia had expressed its distrust towards the SDV. Soon after, changes and supplements to the Act on National Protection (RS Off. Gazette 38/88) were introduced. This law determined that "the RS Assembly, through a special body, exercises control over SDV work". The appointment of a commission to monitor the work was one of the most absurd decisions made in intelligence security during the era of "social democracy", since SDV activity was regulated by federal legislation and regulations published in the secret Official Gazettes. Neither the commission members nor its president had access to these Acts. It was difficult to evaluate information, since the commission had no investigative powers or capability to verify information. The head of the service was tasked simply to deliver requested information, even classified, to the commission. The SDV was also still receiving asks from the Party, although the supervising commission lacked the powers to control those tasks. In the same year (October, 1988), the Council for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was established. The above-mentioned events undermined the unity of the SDV in SRS, which formulated its own, unpublished regulations (sub-legal acts, ordinances, etc.). This made any protest about violation of rights impossible, as the regulations were inaccessible to the public.

Establishment of Intelligence Section Within SDV Directorate

In the late 1980s, a peculiarity unknown in other parts of Yugoslavia came into existence in Slovenia. Due to an increase in democratization and more "humane" points of view, the term "bourgeois right" was substituted for "internal enemy" in Slovene intelligence and security practices. "Internal enemies" had been clearly defined in the penal code and required a legal response and punishment, whereas the term "bourgeois right" did not require sanctions, though it was unacceptable to the Party. The RS SDV could therefore act against the "bourgeois right-wing" but were not required to prosecute them. The Slovene political authorities took an intermediate path which was less punitive than the federal but nevertheless provided it with knowledge about the growing opposition. Due to increasing criticism and the processes of democratization, the work of the SDV was reduced. In order harmonize the legal status of the SDV with the current developments, the RS SDV leadership prepared (March, 1989) a Directorate of State Security Service law and set up within the SDV a section for protection against the activities of foreign intelligence services; a section to fight international terrorism; a section to protect against the violent overthrow of constitutional order; a section to protect individuals, facilities, and specific areas; and an intelligence section. This was the first time since the abolition of the VOS that a shift was made from classical security to intelligence security. A large part of SDV operations was re-directed into intelligence collection .
Conflict with Federal Authorities

The first democratic multiparty elections in April 1990, which enhanced the process of democratization and led to a plebiscite in December 1990, reverberated within the Federal Secretariat of Internal Affairs (ZSNZ) and Federal State Security Directorate (ZSDV), which were fighting to maintain control over the SDV in RS. The latter became increasingly disunited; it was still legally connected to the federal bodies, but was becoming aware of the fact that it operated and worked in Slovenia. Some professional cadres, especially those in the "domestic field" (dealing with the "bourgeois rightwing", clericalists, and student movements), began leaving the service. Conflict was increasing, and SDV archives were being systematically destroyed. In its search for new roles, the RS SDV also began to limit information it was sending to the ZSDV. It ultimately restricted its information to foreign intelligence services.

Along with the weakening positions of the The ZSDV position was becoming weaker and attempts by the JLA (Yugoslav People's Army) Security Service to strengthen its position in Slovenia and in the Slovene SDV were becoming more numerous. The attempts failed because they depended upon cadres of other nationalities still employed at the RS SDV but who had no access to data bases and had no decision-making power due to their "Yugoslav" orientation.

In order to save what could be saved, the federal secretary of internal affairs issued an act which mandated federal bodies to perform an inspection in the RS SDV from 25 February-1 March 1991 with the goal of determining the reasons for the failure of ZSNZ SDV to accomplish a unified surveillance of subjects. Other questions to be answered addressed were: harmonization of federal interests in the Republic of Slovenia with Slovenian interests; decrease in information intelligence from the Republic of Slovenia; and decrease in quality, substance, and clarity of information. In short, the objective was, as explained by the federal secretary of internal affairs "to bring Slovenia its senses". The secretary of internal affairs announced this inspection in a letter of 11 February 1991. Slovenia immediately rejected the move. The RS secretary of internal affairs informed the federal bodies that Slovenia was refusing the inspection because "such an inspection violates current legislation" and reminding them that a plebiscite in Slovenia on 23 Dec. 1990, voted for an independent and sovereign republic in which constitutional amendments regulating this area had been adopted. Since the law placing domestic affairs under the control of the federal administrative bodies was no longer in force, the inspection was therefore impossible. The reply represented a complete break in relations with the ZSDV.

Establishment of VIS

Under these conditions, regulation of security intelligence and the role of the RS SDV had to be resolved. Even though the Slovene democratic authorities rejected the "lustration legislation" which had been adopted by other former communist bloc countries, its decisions to disempower the SDV, force administrative retirements, legislative changes, reorganization and a reformulation of the work program, leadership cadre reshuffles and, last but not least, a renaming of the Security Intelligence Service (VIS) created conditions in which the service was no longer a threat, but still capable of confronting the increasingly aggressive JLA.

The VIS was legally regulated in 1991 by the Act on Changes and Supplements to the Act on Internal Affairs, though it had been adopted in 1980 and twice amended (1988 and 1989). It was organized as a RSNZ service responsible for proposing measures addressing dangers to the security and existence of the country. The work of the VIS included tracking, recording, and analyzing information on activities of foreign countries, their intelligence services and other organizations, including terrorist, believed capable of posing threat to defense, security, political, or economic interests of the country. It was organized regionally and empowered to use special operative methods (covert co-operation and surveillance, purchase of objects, interception of telephone and other communications and media, interception of letters and other consignments, anti-interception inspection, and technical protection of facilities), but it was forced to relinquish classic police powers, thereby shedding its label as the VIS "political police". Immediately after it was established, the VIS found itself in a difficult position, for the JLA, federal police, and customs authorities began their aggression against Slovenia15.

The VIS immediately focussed on information collection, and discovering the intentions, goals, and activities of the JLA and other federal bodies opposing independence. Within its limits, it also thwarted JLA activities. For the first time, the VIS disseminated information (through foreign TV and radio stations) and assisted in spreading the truth about events in Yugoslavia and Slovenia.

Even though the VIS was professional and efficient, before and during the aggression on Slovenia, later events brought it to near collapse and retarded the further development of the intelligence security system. However, as soon as the last soldier of the Yugoslav Army left Slovene soil, the first voices of dissent emerged between the intelligence security service of Defense Ministry (VOMO) and the VIS, which grew into open conflict in the following years. The reputation of the intelligence security service was called into question, and reached its lowest point between 1994-9616. The reasons for this development were numerous, among them:

1. After the departure of the aggressor JLA from Slovenia, the "value" of intelligence security information decreased; what prevailed was glorification of the victory, the concept of an all-consuming friendship with the Western world, and the superfluity of intelligence work.
2. The foundations for the intelligence security system had not been laid and the criteria for national security had not been agreed upon. Intelligence security information was being collected by different services with diverse authorizations and powers.
3. The norms were devised based on short-term concepts, and failed to address the differences between the new and the former single party system17.
4. Intelligence security bodies (various services) were dispersed throughout different ministries and subordinated to superiors from different political representing different political interests.
5. Due to earlier criticisms of SDV (i.e., uncritical simplification and failure to distinguish between "internal, counter-intelligence, and intelligence") the public refused support to new services and reduced their efficiency, as they were unable to acquire new agents.
6. Growing requests for the absolute disclosure to the public made obsolete the concept of "SECRET" which was still not defined under the new legal conditions. Services' files were removed, agents' personal files were made public, and controversial documents and archive materials were misused or removed.
7. Intelligence security services were not under unified parliamentary control until 1993. The control itself was not exercised in practice, which resulted in frequent deviations18.

These factors politicized the intelligence security activity to such extent that the word "UDBA"19 became a synonym for evil and repugnance, and the term "UDBOVEC" an insult which was legally sanctioned. Under these circumstances, it was the opinion of foreign intelligence services that Slovene intelligence was disintegrating and unable to accomplish its mission, and that "Slovenia has become a free training ground for the safe activities of foreign intelligence services".
Establishment of SOVA

To prevent further decline of the services, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted measures to end stagnation and to further consolidate. One was the decision to remove the VIS from the Interior Ministry and transform it into a service of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. Unfortunately, this measure was not fully implemented. The VIS, which was renamed the Slovene Intelligence Security Service (SOVA) did not become an autonomous service of the government of the Republic of Slovenia, but was given a supervising body composed of three ministers who were to monitor the rights, duties, and authorizations of the Service's Director and provide him with guidelines. Unfortunately, the commission was formed on a political basis, without considering the needs of trade-craft. Even though the measure did not entirely regulate the intelligence and security field (some tasks were still being performed at the Defense Ministry), it represented a major improvement.

The next positive step was the adoption of the Resolution on Starting Points of a RS National Security Scheme (1993) which defined "intelligence security activity" as an instrument to provide the competent bodies with important information and analytical and operative assessments needed for making decisions about the security of the Republic of Slovenia. The resolution also mandated the State Assembly (the parliament) to formulate strategic guidelines, direct the work of intelligence security services and exercise parliamentary control, whereas the Government of the Republic of Slovenia was to set priorities and direct and coordinate the work of the Services.

In order to regulate the intelligence and security in the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovene government prepared a draft on the law on intelligence security activity (1994). However, it failed to win support of the parliament. Attempts to regulate the intelligence security continued until 1999, when the State Assembly adopted the Act on Slovene Intelligence and Security Agencies.

The Act on Slovene and Intelligence Security Agencies (ZSOVA) defines SOVA is an independent governmental service which collects, evaluates, and provides users with information to safeguard security, political, and economic interests of the country20, as well as information on organizations, groups, and persons who, through activities abroad or in connection with foreign entities, constitute a threat to national security and the constitutional order; it also deals with security clearances. SOVA collects information covertly and also utilizes special forms of information collection such as monitoring international communications systems, covert purchase of documents and objects, and overt observation and surveillance in open or public places by technical means. In exceptional cases, SOVA may collect information through interception of letters and other means of communication, including telecommunications, if authorized by the competent District Court. The latter can authorize the above measures in order to: combat covert activities against the sovereignty of the Republic of Slovenia, uncover operations of international terrorist organizations, in cases of disclosure of classified information, if preparations for armed aggression against the Republic of Slovenia are underway; and to expose intelligence activities of individuals, organizations and groups, and international organized crime.

SOVA is today a modern, professional, and efficient organization, comparable to other intelligence security services around the world. It is capable of dealing with more sophisticated security challenges and actively cooperates with other intelligence security services in the world as an equal partner.

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