||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (February 2013)|
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|Active||Since July 28, 1974|
|Country||Soviet Union (1974-1991)
Russian Federation (1991-present)
(Other post-Soviet units in Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan)
|Branch||Spetsnaz of the FSB (formerly KGB, GUO, MVD)|
|Role||Counter-terrorism, special operations|
|Size||Classified (estimated 500 in 1991, 250-300 in 2004)|
|Part of||Federal Security Service (Russia)|
Territorial units: Khabarovsk, Krasnodar, Yekaterinburg, Grozny (formerly: Kiev, Minsk, Taldykorgan)
|Nickname||Spetsgruppa "A", Alpha (Alfa)|
Aeroflot Flight 6833 hostage crisis
Soviet coup d'état attempt
Russian constitutional crisis
Budyonnovsk hostage crisis
Kizlyar-Pervomayskoye hostage crisis
Battle of Grozny (August 1996)
Battle of Komsomolskoye
Moscow theater hostage crisis
Beslan school hostage crisis
Alpha Group (a popular English name), also known as Spetsgruppa "A" or Alfa and officially named Directorate "A" of the FSB Special Purpose Center (TsSN FSB), is an elite, stand-alone sub-unit of Russia's special forces and is a dedicated counter-terrorism task-force of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Preventing and responding to terrorist acts in public transportation and buildings is the primary responsibility. It was created by the Soviet KGB, the forerunner of the FSB, in 1974. Although little is known about the exact nature of its primary directives, it is speculated that the unit is authorized to act under the direct control and sanction of Russia's top political leadership, similar to the Directorate "B" (Vympel) unit that is officially tasked with protecting Russia's strategic installations. It is also available for extended police duties and paramilitary applications, and for covert operations, including abroad.
In the Soviet Union 
The unit "A" (or Alfa) was created on the orders of Yuri Andropov, then Chairman of the KGB, 28 July 1974 in the aftermath of the 1972 Munich massacre. According to some authors it was created as a response to the creation of the Grunzesschutzguppe 9 (or the GSG 9). By attaching a spetsnaz unit to the office of the First Chief Directorate in Moscow (later the Seventh Directorate), it was hoped that the Soviet Union's defensive capacity against terrorist attack would increase significantly. (Other, more offensive special forces of the KGB at that time included the groups Zenit and Kaskad/Omega.) Later, territorial Alpha units were established in Kiev Oblast, Minsk Oblast, Almaty Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, Khabarovsk Krai and Sverdlovsk Oblast.
Initially, this special-purposed counter-terrorism unit was involved in delicate operations that necessitated its members' unique skill set. In 1979, Alpha shot a young Ukrainian named Yuri Vlasenko who was occupying a room in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, demanding being granted asylum in the United States, and was killed either by gunfire or by the following detonation of his home-made bomb that slightly damaged the building (Ambassador Malcolm Toon said he had told the Soviet authorities to "expel" the man and that "the problem is theirs"). Through the 1980s, Alpha was often being domestically deployed to respond an increasing number of hostage taking situations, including at least two cases involving buildings being taken over and hostages taken by violent groups of deserters from the Soviet Army and other armed formations. Notably, the 1983 hijacking of Aeroflot Flight 6833 in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, was broken when Alpha stormed the airplane and killed three and captured three of the hijackers who were attempting to escape to the West, at the cost of five killed hostages (the captured hijackers and their alleged co-conspirator, a priest, were later executed). It also became involved in the ethnic conflicts that occurred in many regions of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Two officers of the Group "A" were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union: Gen. Viktor Karpukhin and Gen. Gennady Zaitsev.
Foreign operations 
Soon, Alpha was assigned missions that far exceeded its formal scope. On 27 December 1979, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev launched a surprise armed intervention and regime change operation in the allied Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Soviet forces, including KGB commandos who had infiltrated the country on a pretense to guard the Soviet Embassy, were able to quickly secure important governmental institutions through Kabul, such as Ministry of the Interior, headquarters of the KHAD security service, Ministry of Defense (Darul Aman Palace), and, in a 34-minute storming of Tajbeg Palace, successfully assassinated President Hafizullah Amin, killing him along with his mistress and a child son (the orders were to kill every Afghan in the building). The assault on Tajbeg Palace was given the name Operation Storm-333 and involved a combined force of Soviet Airborne Troops (VDV) paratroopers and the special forces groups from the military intelligence GRU and the KGB, including 24 men from the "Thunder" detachment of Alpha Group, who were dressed in Afghan uniforms and headed by Grigoriy Boyarinov, commandant of special operations school of the KGB's Department 8. It was Boyarinov who ordered that all Afghan witnesses of the operation are to be killed, and he himself was shot dead by Alpha troops when he was mistaken for a palace guard. According to Russian sources, the members of this highly-trained group performed remarkably well and lost only two men killed; the lightest casualties of all forces involved in the raid. However, the success of Storm-333, and the initial invasion, marked the beginning of the ten-year Soviet war in Afghanistan, and subsequently, Alpha Group's extensive involvement throughout the conflict.
Six years later, in October 1985, Alpha Group was dispatched to the war-torn Beirut, Lebanon. The Kremlin was informed of the kidnapping of four Russian diplomats by the militant group Islamic Liberation Organization (a radical offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood). It was believed that this was retaliation to the Russian support of the Syrian involvement in the Lebanese Civil War. However, by the time Alpha arrived, word spread that one of the hostages had already been killed. Through a network of supporting KGB operatives, members of the task-force identified each of the perpetrators involved in the crisis, and once identified, began to take the relatives of these militants as hostages. Following the standard Soviet policy of no negotiations with terrorists, some of the hostages belonging to Alpha Group had been dismembered and their body parts where sent to the militants. The warning was clear: more would follow unless the remaining hostages are released immediately. The show of force worked, and for a period of 20 years no Soviet or Russian officials were taken captive until the 2006 abduction and murder of four Russian embassy staff members in Iraq. However, the veracity of this story is open to debate. Another version says that the release of the Soviet hostages was the result of extensive diplomatic negotiations with spiritual leader of Hezbollah, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who appealed to King Hussein of Jordan and the leaderships of Libya and Iran to use their influence on the kidnappers.
Fall of the Soviet Union 
On 11 March 1990, the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian SSR made public their intent to secede from the Soviet Union and re-establish the independent Republic of Lithuania. As a result of this pronouncement, on 9 January 1991, the Soviet leadership dispatched Alpha Group to quell the independence movement and maintain Lithuania's status as a Soviet republic. This attempt to re-establish Soviet dominance culminated in the violent seizure of the Vilnius TV Tower on 13 January 1991, during which the Soviet military and security forces killed 13 unarmed Lithuanian protesters, also causing the death of one Alpha operative (Lt. Viktor Shatskikh, apparently struck in the back by friendly fire). In 2011, former commander of Alpha Group, retired KGB Col. Mikhail Golovatov, was detained at Vienna International Airport on an European Arrest Warrant issued by Lithuania, but Austrian authorities released him within 24 hours, claiming that the information provided by Lithuania was "too vague". In response, Lithuanian parliament discussed breaking diplomatic ties with Austria in protest. A joint statement by Foreign Ministers of all three Baltic States condemned the release of Col. Golovatov and said that it should have been one of "the occasions when suspects are detained and extradited, particularly when they are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity" as "the crimes performed in 1991 in Vilnius and Riga have no limitation" ("Riga" referring to a similar crackdown in January 1991, when six Latvian policemen and civilians were killed by Soviet OMON and KGB forces, possibly including Alpha Group members).
During the events of the Soviet coup d'état attempt in August 1991, Alpha Group's commanding officer at the time, Gen. Karpukhin, was tasked by the oral command of KGB Chairman, Vladimir Kryuchkov, with forcibly entering the White House, Russia's acting parliament, after a planned assault on the entrance by paratroopers, in order to eliminate President of the Russian SFSR, Boris Yeltsin, and various other anti-coup leaders assembled there. In addition to Alpha Group, Gen. Karpukhin was also given authority of Vega Group (Vympel), elements of the Soviet Airborne, Internal Troops special units of the Dzerzhinsky Division (OMSDON), mobilized units of the Moscow OMON, three tank companies, and a squadron of helicopters. On-site analysis of the area was conducted by Airborne deputy commander Alexander Lebed and other senior officers who mingled with the crowds of anti-coup protesters nearest to the White House. There seems to be a general consensus among the military officials who gathered that day, as evidenced by their statements some months after the botched coup attempt, that had they followed through on their endeavor it would have succeeded. The stated mission objectives could have been reached in no more than half-an-hour, but it would have come at a terrible human cost. Shortly after their assessment was made, Gen. Karpukhin and Vympel's Boris Beskov convinced the KGB Deputy Chairman, Gennady Ageyev, that such a massive undertaking should be cancelled.
In the Russian Federation 
According to some Russian security sources, Alpha Group was degraded and demoralized by the political manipulation it suffered in vicious political battles that surrounded the dissolution and collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1993, Yeltsin, who by then became the President of Russian Federation, used Alpha and Vympel during a deadly showdown in central Moscow against the pro-parliament forces that sided with Vice-President Alexander Rutskoy (declaring him an acting president) during the Russian constitutional crisis. The crisis ended when Armed Forces' paratroopers and Internal Troops' special forces unit Vityaz supported by Russian Ground Forces tanks and armored personnel carriers (many of the military vehicles were manned not by conscripts but members of the Union of Afghanistan Veterans) stormed and seized the Russian White House (the Supreme Soviet of Russia parliament building) on 4 October 1993, killing at least dozens (possibly hundreds) of people and ensuring the total victory of Yeltsin's faction over the opposition. Alpha troops, however, refused to attack the White House, which reportedly brought their commander, Gen. Zaitsev, to a brink of suicide due to embarrassment over the open insubordination of his troops in the face of oral presidential orders. Near the White House, one of the Alpha troops who agreed to go there, Lt. Gennady Sergeyev, was mortally wounded by sniper fire from the direction of Hotel Ukraina and only then the entire unit did agree to move. Opposition gunmen were blamed for this shooting, but it is possible that the shots were actually fired by members of a special unit loyal to Yeltsin; it was rumored that the snipers in the hotel were commanded by Alexander Korzhakov, chief of the Presidential Security Service (SBP). In the end, Rutskoy and the other leaders of anti-Yeltsin faction, including Ruslan Khasbulatov, Vladislav Achalov and Viktor Barannikov, all negotiated their surrender to the Alpha troops (militia leader Albert Makashov argued against the surrender), who entered the shelled and burning building when the shooting stopped after dark and then brought them, along with the detained Supreme Soviet deputies, to Lefortovo Prison.
After that, both Alpha and Vympel were taken from the Main Guard Directorate (GUO) and for a time being put under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). Meanwhile, Alpha veterans became active in legitimate business (such as the private security company Alpha-B, co-founded by Col. Golovatov in August 1993) and organized crime, as well as in politics. Alpha veterans association led by Sergey Goncharov strongly opposed Yeltsin faction's party Our Home – Russia in the legislative election of 1995 (Goncharov later became a State Duma deputy). Gen. Karpukhin, who resigned from the service following the 1991 coup attempt, became chief of security to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, after which he worked with private security companies in Moscow and ran unsuccessfully for the Duma as a member of the Union of Patriots in 1995.
As part of the government shakeup in response to the Budyonnovsk debacle in June 1995, Yeltsin fired first Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Sergei Stepashin. Two months later, Alpha and Vityaz were both transferred from the MVD to the FSB when Mikhail Barsukov became the new head of the organization and created the FSB Anti-Terrorist Center (ATC), headed by Gen. Viktor Zorin. Directorate "A" (Alfa) was tasked with protecting transportation and buildings and Directorate "B" (Vega/Vympel) was tasked with protecting strategic sites (another Directorate, "K", was tasked with ideological counterintelligence); "A" and "B" were soon joined in a Tsentr Spetsnaz (Special Purpose Center) under Gen. Vladimir Pronichev. In October 1995, Alpha killed the armed man who hijacked a bus with South Korean tourists in Moscow, demanding $1 million and to be flown out of the country. They also took part in the operation to eliminate the foreign militant leader Abu Hafs in Dagestan in 2006. As of 2013, eight officers of Alpha were awarded the title Hero of the Russian Federation: Lt. Sergeyev (posthumously), Col. Anatoly Saveliev (posthumously), Gen. Vladimir Ulyanov (posthumously), Maj. Yuri Danilin (posthumously), Col. Sergei Dyachenko, Col. Valery Kanakin, Maj. Alexander Perov (posthumously) and Col. Andrei Kum.
In Chechnya 
Alpha Group have been involved in the First Chechen War of 1994–1996. In the fall of 1994, Alpha provided personal security details for the main commanders of the invasion of Chechnya (which had declared independence from the Russian SFSR and then the Soviet Union in 1990–1991), Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and federal Interior Minister Viktor Yerin, as they traveled to the Mozdok airbase in North Ossetia (the base served as the main headquarters, staging area and logistics base for federal forces entering Chechnya). Later, many Alpha troops were recruited for an extra-duty service in "mobile anti-terror groups" (mobilnye gruppy antiterrora) and to provide additional security for the pro-Moscow Chechen government complex and the regional FSB headquarters in the Chechen capital Grozny. In August 1996, 35 of them (including 14 members of the territorial Alpha unit from Krasnodar Krai) took part in a stubborn defense of the latter building when the city was retaken by Chechen separatist forces, who either overrun or blockaded and besieged the network of fortified checkpoints and various buildings belonging to, protected by, or just ad-hoc occupied by cut-off groups of Russian military and security forces. The main FSB office (the republican UFSB building in Grozny was seized by guerrillas after its mostly local personnel had abandoned it, leaving behind an arms cache) was one of the few key structures that were still being held by federal forces in central Grozny at the time of the war's final ceasefire, but at the cost of 70 of its defenders killed in some of the fiercest fighting of this last battle.
It was alleged that, following the Khasavyurt Accord of August 1996, the ATC carried out clandestine operations intended to discredit the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria so that it would not receive international recognition of independence. According to Jonathan Littell, the service "was most likely deeply involved" in many of the high-profile kidnappings that resulted in an enormous damage to Chechnya's reputation. Littel wrote: "It is impossible to say whether these provocations were part of a more general FSB policy or whether the [ATC] and its departments were running their own show; certainly it did not reflect the official policy of the government, nor of those officials like Ivan Rybkin, the Secretary of the Security Council, tasked with the Chechen dossier between 1996 and 1999."
Alpha was active during the Second Chechen War that began in 1999 (as well as the subsequent Insurgency in the North Caucasus). During the Battle of Komsomolskoye in 2000, Alpha snipers attached to Vladimir Shamanov's Western Group of federal forces were deployed in an attempt to suppress Ruslan Gelayev's snipers in the village. According to the unit's veterans, operations in which Alpha took part led to the arrest of Chechen commander Salman Raduyev in 2000, the killing of Chechen commander Arbi Barayev in 2001, and the killing of Chechen separatist President Aslan Maskhadov in 2005. Following the transfer of responsibility for operations in Chechnya from the Ministry of Defence to the FSB in January 2001 (prior to the "Chechenization" policy that began in 2003), Alpha members (along with the other FSB personnel detached from regional UFSBs and members of various MVD special forces, and sometimes working with the pro-Moscow Chechen militia-like security forces known the Kadyrovtsy) participated in the at least 10 mixed "combined special groups" (svodnye spetsialnye gruppy, SSGs), considered death squads by human rights groups and outside observers. It is believed that the SSGs were behind many of the numerous so-called "name/address cleansings" (imeny/adressny zachistki): usually night-time raids by masked men who would conceal their exact affiliation and arrrive in often unmarked vehicles, targeting of specific active or former rebel combatants and their supporters as well as their relatives and other civilians for either forced disappearance or outright extrajudicial killing. (In 2005, Human Rights Watch declared that the "disappearances" have reached the scale of a crime against humanity and that "Russia has the inglorious distinction of being a world leader in enforced disappearances.") The Chechnya UFSB can also deploy a local Alpha unit, believed to be similar in its role to the SSGs.
Mass hostage crises 
Notably, the group was instrumental in the Russian federal government's response and attempts to forcibly bring an end to a series of mass hostage crisis incidents in which groups of Chechen separatist militants and their supporters took hostages in the Russia's southern territories near Chechnya and even in Russian heartland, namely the Budyonnovsk hospital hostage crisis in June 1995, the Kizlyar-Pervomayskoye hostage crisis in January 1996, the Moscow theater hostage crisis in October 2002, and the Beslan school hostage crisis in September 2004. Each of these high-profile incidents resulted in hundreds of fatalities and injuries among hostages and, with the exception of the Moscow siege, significant losses among the unit's personnel.
At Budyonnovsk (Budennovsk) in Stavropol Krai, two abortive storming attempts by Alpha and Vympel supported by direct covering fire from tanks and armored personnel carriers killed scores of hostages in a major public relations disaster for Russian government as the carnage was televised live across the country. In the first, pre-dawn raid, only 86 out of more than 1,500 hostages were freed but more than 30 hostages were killed by their supposed rescuers before they were forced to retreat after four hours of fighting, which also killed several men on both sides. After that, the leader of hostage-takers, Chechen commander Shamil Basayev, agreed to release pregnant and nursing women and to allow the emergency services to put down a fire that had erupted throughout the main building and to collect and remove dead bodies. The assault was then resumed at noon and included the use of tear gas; it stopped after over an hour when Basayev agreed to release the remaining women and children. Overall death toll (more than 120 people) included three Alpha members. In the end, the crisis was resolved through further negotiations that led to an agreement involving a ceasefire in Chechnya and high-level peace talks (both were later broken down and the full-scale hostilities resumed in October). Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin claimed that the attacks had not been authorized by the government but rather "impulsively" launched by the troops acting without orders.
At Pervomayskoye (a small settlement on the outskirt of Kizlyar) in Dagestan, in an operation that was conducted under a direct control of Barsukov, Alpha Group (which was sent in without winter clothing and quartered in unheated buses) was mostly held in reserve during the multiple failed storming attempts that were spearheaded by Vityaz and the Moscow unit of police special force SOBR, supported by tanks and armored vehicles. Further attacks were conducted with heavy artillery (including Grad launchers firing salvos of rockets into the village) and helicopter gunship support. According a series of the FSB statements justifying the use of unlimited force, the hostages had been falsely announced dead even before the storming began, allegedly having been executed by their captors. This full-scale, tactical offensive has continued for three days, after which Chechen militants managed to fight their way through the siege lines in a night-time breakout attack and escape with many of their surviving hostages in another major humiliation for the Kremlin. Some 26 out of 150 hostages lost their lives (most of at least 2,000 hostages already have been released in Kizlyar, before Raduyev's convoy with the remaining ones was stopped by a helicopter ambush near Pervomayskoye at the border with Chechnya). In all, the incident resulted in estimated more than 300 fatalities, mostly among Russian forces. Despite avoiding the kind of devastating losses that decimated the Moscow SOBR (including the death of their commanding officer) and the 22nd Independent Brigade of Spetsnaz GRU (including the death of intelligence chief of the 58th Army), Alpha Group still suffered casualties at Pervomayskoye, including in a friendly fire incident that occurred after the fighting had already ended (a regular soldier accidentally fired his infantry fighting vehicle's Grom gun, killing two Alpha members). One of the unit's commanders claimed they were "set up", saying: "The first day it was 15 below and we were standing in the fields with no warm clothes. There were no sleeping bags, no water, no food. The hostages were being destroyed, the rebels were being destroyed and we were being destroyed there. That's what happened."
Several highly controversial actions made the force especially susceptible to criticism when the issue revolves around hostages lives. An example of this is the employment of an unknown chemical agent to assist Alpha Group and Moscow SOBR break the Moscow hostage crisis on 26 October 2002 by knocking out the people inside the building. The FSB chemical attack resulted, besides summary executions of unconscious hostage takers by the special forces, in the deaths of at least 129 hostages and a serious damage to the health of many others, yet was hailed by the group's officers as their "first successful operation for years". In 2011, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Russia to pay compensations to 64 survivors of the siege for their physical and emotional suffering and to initiate a case against the officials who committed human rights violations, ruling that the authorities had failed to plan and conduct the operation in a way that would minimize the risks to the hostages. Russia failed to uphold ECHR ruling, paying the compensations to victims but not launching an investigation into the violations.
Another issue of a heated controversy is the use of tank cannons, portable flamethrowers and other indiscriminate weapons such as grenade launchers on 3 September 2004 in Beslan, North Ossetia, when the local school taken over by Chechen-led militants from Ingushetia was raided by the heavily armed FSB special forces of Alpha and Vympel. The operation was overseen by the head of the Special Purpose Center, Gen. Alexander Tikhonov (who forbade extinguishing the fire in the school) and personally by Gen. Pronichev himself, and supported by tanks, armored personnel carriers and attack helicopters. John McAleese, a member of the Special Air Service (SAS) team which in 1980 had liberated the Iranian Embassy in London, immediately called it one of the worst hostage rescue attempts he had seen or heard about. Beslan siege turned out to be particularly bloody, costing the lives of more than 330 hostages as well as at least seven Alpha members. According to the government, "the burn impact [on the dead hostages' bodies] was post mortem" and thus there were no grounds for a criminal case against troops who used flamethrowers during the assault. No ballistic tests have been carried out and the prosecutors were not allowed to investigate the special forces’ weapons and to determine who exactly killed the hostages. In 2007, 447 survivors and relatives of victims of Beslan massacre brought a complaint against the Russian federal government in seven applications to the ECHR.
In other post-Soviet states 
Ex-Soviet regional Alpha units 
Almaty territorial unit of Alpha was turned into the special unit Arystan (meaning "Lions" in Kazakh) of the National Security Committee (KNB) of Kazakhstan. In 2006, five members of Arystan were arrested and charged with kidnapping of the opposition politician Altynbek Sarsenbayuly, his driver and his bodyguard (the three victims were then allegedly delivered to the people who murdered them).
New units 
Georgia established its own Alpha unit. Alpha was created as one of the three special forces units belonging to the Ministry of State Security (the other two were named Delta and Omega). In 1995, members of Alpha and the Minister of State Security, Igor Giorgadze, were blamed for the failed bombing attempt on President Eduard Shevardnadze. After that, Giorgadze fled to Moscow and Georgia's Alpha was purged and reorganized.
A special unit named "Alfa" Special Operations Executive (ASOE) was estabilished within the National Security Service of Kyrgyzstan. In 2010, eight members of ASOE, including five snipers and the unit's commander, were charged with killing unarmed people during the Second Kyrgyz Revolution. Criminal cases were brought to the court under the articles 97 (murder) and 305 pt.2 (exceeding the limits of authority).
In popular culture 
- A character named Sergei was included in Andy McNab's 2000 novel Firewall, who was mentioned as being a former member of Alpha force.
- The 2003 political-simulation video game Republic: The Revolution features the Alpha Squad, first as an action taken by the corrupt president of a fictional post-Soviet state of Novistrana against the "Democracy Now" party, and then against his most dangerous enemies. Later in the game, it becomes an action that can be used by the player's character, as long as his level is high enough.
- The video game Alfa: Antiterror was developed by Russian game developer MiST Land South in 2005.
- In the 2007 film Hitman, the protagonist assassin Agent 47 fights the Alpha Group guards of his target, the corrupt Russian president. The Alpha troops are also seen using knockout gas in a church full of civilians in an apparent reference to the Moscow theater hostage crisis.
- In the 2010 film Predators, Oleg Taktarov portrays Nikolai, a commando from the Alpha Group who was fighting in the Second Chechen War before finding himself on the alien planet.
- The 2012 video game Medal of Honor: Warfighter focuses on international special mission units and includes Alfa Group as a playable faction in the game's multiplayer mode.
- Ibp Usa, Russia Foreign Policy and Government Guide, page 113.
- Botched operation was a disaster waiting to happen, The Guardian, September 4, 2004.
- David Cox (2001). Close Protection: The Politics of Guarding Russia's Rulers. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-275-96688-1. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- The Early Yeltsin Years by Jonathan Littell.
- (Russian) History of formation.
- (Russian) Знаковые операции Группы «А» КГБ-ФСБ.
- Account Given of Embassy's Fatal Explosion, Washington Post, March 30, 1979.
- David Cox, Close Protection: The Politics of Guarding Russia's Rulers, pages 60, 101, 106, 127.
- (Russian) История Группы «А».
- The End of the KGB by Jonathan Littell.
- Jeffery T. Richelson, A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century, page 359.
- How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace, BBC News, 27 December 2009.
- Glenn Peter Hastedt; Steven W. Guerrier (31 December 2010). Spies, Wiretaps, and Secret Operations: An Encyclopedia of American Espionage. ABC-CLIO. p. 732. ISBN 978-1-85109-808-8. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- (Russian) Article on Storm-333 at VPK-news.ru.
- (Russian) Baikal-79 by A. Lyakhovskiy
- Terrorist Organization Profile - START - National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
- Davies, pg. 108.
- (Russian) A Soviet intelligence operation in Beirut.
- Baltic fury over Austria's release of ex-Soviet officer, BBC News, 19 July 2011.
- Lithuania may break diplomatic ties with Austria over ex-KGB agent release, RIA Novosti, 18/07/2011.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia: The Baltic states demonstrate their unity over the release of Golovatov.
- David Satter, Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union, pg. 18.
- (Russian) September 1991 internal KGB report on the involvement of KGB in the coup.
- (Russian) "Novaya Gazeta" No. 51 of 23 July 2001 (extracts from the indictment of the conspirators).
- (Russian) Timeline of the events, by Artem Krechnikov, Moscow BBC correspondent[dead link]
- Argumenty i Fakty, 15 August 2001[dead link]
- Brian D. Taylor, Politics and the Russian Army: Civil-Military Relations, 1689-2000, page 294.
- Margaret Shapiro, Army Shellfire Crushes Moscow Revolt; Dozens Killed in Assault on Parliament; Yeltsin Foes Surrender After Two-Day Battle, The Washington Post, October 5, 1993.
- Serge Schemann, SHOWDOWN IN MOSCOW: The Overview; RUSSIAN ARMY ROUTS REBELS AT PARLIAMENT AS YELTSIN TAKES STEPS TO TIGHTEN CONTROL, The New York Times, October 05, 1993.
- Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev, George Shriver, Post-Soviet Russia: A Journey Through the Yeltsin Era, page 127.
- Agentura.ru - FSB Special forces: 1998-2010.
- Alpha Russian special service unit is as strong as ever - English pravda.ru.
- Maj-Gen Viktor Karpukhin - Telegraph.
- Gary Borg, Police Storm Bus, Kill Hijacker, Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1995.
- Samuel M. Katz (1 September 2004). Against All Odds: Counterterrorist Hostage Rescues. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 1960. ISBN 978-0-8225-1567-8. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Mozdok (182nd Heavy Bomber Rgmt).
- Olga Oliker, Russia's Chechen Wars 1994-2000: Lessons from Urban Combat, Issue 1289, pages 31, 77.
- Antero Leitzinger, Caucasus and an Anholy Alliance, page 285.
- The Security Organs Under Vladimir Putin by Jonathan Littell.
- Fred Weir, Putin battles political fallout of Chechnya fight, The Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 2003.
- Mariya Y. Omelicheva, Counterterrorism and Human Rights, page 132.
- Mark Franchetti, "Russian death squads 'pulverise' Chechens", Sunday Times, April 26, 2009.
- Chechnya suffering crimes against humanity: HRW - Daily Times
- Sebastian Smith, Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition, pages 202, 213.
- Robert W. Schaefer, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad, pages 132, 136-138.
- Adam Dolnik, Keith M. Fitzgerald, Negotiating Hostage Crises With the New Terrorists, pages 46-47.
- Andrew Felkay, Yeltsin's Russia and the West, page 123.
- (Russian) Пиар на крови десантников
- John Giduck, Terror At Beslan: A Russian Tragedy With Lessons For America's Schools, page 112.
- Michael Specter, 10 Days That Shook Russia: Siege in the Caucasus, The New York Times, January 22, 1996.
- Nord-Ost Tragedy Goes On, Moscow News 2004 N.41 – a discussion of the long-term effects of the anesthetic on the surviving hostages.
- Troops bring freedom and death to theater of blood, The Guardian, October 27, 2002.
- ECHR fines Russia $1.6 mln over Moscow theater terror siege, RIA Novosti, 20/12/2011.
- Russia fails to uphold ECHR court ruling on 2002 terrorist attack, lawyer | Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI)
- FIRST SECTION | Application no. 26562/07 | Emma Lazarovna TAGAYEVA and Others against Russia and 6 other applications (see list appended) | STATEMENT OF FACTS (ECHR document about the siege).
- Uwe Klussmann, The Beslan Aftermath: New Papers Critical of Russian Security Forces, Spiegel Online, August 27, 2005.
- Yaroslav Lukov, Beslan siege still a mystery, BBC News, 2 September 2005.
- Yuri Zakharovitch, Should Russia Share Blame for the Beslan Massacre?, TIME, Aug. 31, 2006.
- David Satter, Remembering Beslan: A crime against humanity., Forbes.com, 10.01.09.
- Nick Paton Walsh, Frantic search for missing as Beslan begins to bury its dead, The Guardian, 6 September 2004.
- Flamethrowers burned no one in Beslan rescue operation - prosecutor, RIA Novosti, October 20.
- Madina Sageyeva, Beslan – The Search for the Truth Goes on, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 18 August 2005.
- Mariya Y. Omelicheva, Counterterrorism Policies in Central Asia, page 119.
- Kazakh security officers suspected of kidnapping, not murdering oppositionist., BBC Monitoring International Reports, February 22, 2006.
- (Russian) О проведении тактико-специальных учений «Блок 2006» / 19 июня 2006 - КГБ.
- Aaron Belkin, United We Stand?: Divide-and-Conquer Politics And the Logic of International Hostility, pages 106-107.
- «Alfa’s» Special Operations Executive Role in the Bishkek’s Events on April 6-7, 2010, Memorial, November 16, 2010.
- Medal of Honor Warfighter Russian Spetsnaz Alfa Group.
- Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin (1999). The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00310-9., pages 389-391
- Barry Davies, (2005). The Spycraft Manual: The Insider's Guide to Espionage Techniques. Carlton Books Ltd. ISBN 1-84442-577-0.
- David Satter (2001). Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-08705-5.