Alpha Group (Russia)

Alpha Group (Russia)
Home NationRussia
Motto‘Win and return’ (Translated from Russian)
Date Founded28th July 1974. 
Key StatisticsSize: Classified (estimated 250-300 in Russia in 2004.)
Organisation: Stand-alone sub-unit of Russia’s special forces within the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Part of Spetsnatz.

Funding: Unclear.
Regimental RemitScope: Russia’s Alpha Group is based in Russia but operates both domestically and internationally. A dedicated anti-terrorism force of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) they have prevented and responded to violent acts in Russia itself such as hostage situations, bomb threats and hijacking in buildings and public transportation (including plane hijackings). They also conduct extended police duties, paramilitary operations and covert operations within Russia and internationally. 
Members of the group were responsible for Operation Storm 333 which marked the start of Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and the ten-year Soviet-Afghan War, in which they were extensively involved.

The Alpha Group have been active beyond their formal domestic scope in ethnic conflicts in the Soviet Union through the 1990s. 
They intervened in the Baltics during the demise of the Soviet Union and were active in the first and second Chechen Wars and subsequently in the North Caucasus.
The Alpha Group have regional units in various ex-Soviet states including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine.

Specialism: Anti terrorism and counter terrorism
Noteworthy Operations1991 Soviet coup d’état attempt: Alpha Group’s commanding officer was commanded to forcibly enter the White House to eliminate Boris Yeltsin. They concluded that the mission could be actualised but with terrible human cost, following the assessment the operation was cancelled.

1993 Russian constitutional crisis: Alpha Group were used in a showdown between pro-parliament forces and Yeltsin.

Operation Storm-333: Alpha Group stormed Tajbeg Palace in Kabul and assassinated Hafizullah Amin marking the start of the Soviet-Afghan War. Alpha Group were specifically tasked with targeting Amin.

Mass hostage crises: in territories in Russia and southern territories near Chechnya

Conflicts in Chechnya and North Caucasus
Any ScandalsCrimes against humanity: Human Rights Watch announced in 2005 that Chechen disappearances by Alpha Group units had reached the scale of a ‘crime against humanity’. Many occurred during the Second Chechen War and following the ‘Chechenization’ policy beginning in 2003 Alpha members participated in at least 10 mixed ‘combined special groups’ that operated as death squads conducting night time raid targeting rebel combatants, their supporters and relatives and other civilians. 
Moscow hostage crisis: The use of an unknown chemical agent during a terrorist hostage crisis in October 2002 in a theater in Moscow led to Russia being fined by the European Court of Human Rights. After pumping the toxic substance into the theatre up to 130 hostages died. Russia did not uphold the ECHR ruling and paid compensation to the victims however did not launch an investigation into the violations. 

Budyonnovsk hostage crisis: Abortive storming attempts by Alpha and Vympel troops ended up killing scores of hostages and resulted in a PR crisis for the Russian government, as they were televised across the country. Alpha troops attempted to storm the hostage centre twice with a death toll of 120 hostages. Eventually the crisis was resolved through negotiations and a ceasefire in Chechnya. The PM at the time distanced himself from the scandal claiming the troops had acted without government orders.

Beslan hostage crisis: Alpha Group were criticised for the use of tank cannons, portable flamethrowers and other weapons in Beslan, September 2004 during a local school hostage takeover by Chechan militants. Alpha and Vympel forces raided the facilities costing the lives of more than 333 people including 186 children and 10 Alpha members. In 2007, 447 survivors and relatives brought a complaint against the Russian government to the ECHR.