BIA History

From the First Serbian Uprising in 1804 up to the establishment of the Department for Secret Police Work in 1899

During the First Serbian Uprising (1804-1813) the civil security-intelligence work was not organized in a separate institution, but was carried out within the military-administrative service of the revolutionary Serbia.

Revolutionary authorities maintained order by preventing attacks on authorities, physical protection of the Governing Council (Praviteljstvujušči sovjet), Karadjordje and certain prominent seniors, appeasing the internal conflicts and unrests.

The suppression of espionage conducted by Turkey and other countries (Austria, Russia and at one point in time France as well) was far more challenging for military and police authorities of the revolutionary state. Revolutionary authorities targeted infiltrated Turkish spies and Serbs who provided information to Turks.

In 1808 the Governing Council issued order to preventively banish from Belgrade and other Serbian cities all betraying individuals that are potentially involved in espionage for the enemy purposes, while, according to the Decree from 1809, police and judicial authorities "were to pay special attention to malevolent people, outlaws, spies and similar". Also, in July 1810, the Council issued order that correspondence from Serbia was to be made exclusively in Serbian language and that it is to be inspected prior to its delivering to "the ferryboat", i.e. to its sending to other countries.

For the first time the police and military work was separated in this document (Article 1). The position of "the Head of Police" (polizeimeister), responsible to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was established. The Head of Police was superior to so-called "liktors" – assistants for the interior, foreign and secret services (Article 4).

Namely, the first Ministry of Internal Affairs was established in January 1811 within the new Governing Council. Jakov Nenadovic was named as its first Minister. The founding of this Ministry had great significance for the development of security and intelligence functions, but also for bodies for their enforcement. Apart from abiding the state authorities' legal work, handling of "internal affairs" referring to the security of citizens and property, tax gathering, suppression of outlaws, control of roads and crossings, public law and order, the Minister was in charge of the civil security-intelligence work as well.

In the period of his first rule (1815-1839), Prince Milos Obrenovic devoted great attention to the organization of security-intelligence activities carried out in two directions. The first direction was aimed at securing the Prince's rule from internal coups, uprisings and plots, Turkish military aggression against Serbia and interfering of Russia and Austria in Serbian internal affairs. The second direction was aimed at law and order in the country, i.e. control of administrative institutions' work, conduct of authorities towards the people, control of life standard and rotation of the currency value in open markets, inspection of sanitary facilities' work and similar.

In the time of Milos's rule, the security-intelligence bodies were engaged in secret procurement of weaponry and war equipment from abroad, protection from top secret disclosure, gathering of political-diplomatic notifications, revealing of misinformation on Serbia and its Prince, as well as in channeling of foreign political views towards the existing requirements of Milos's policy.

In the period when Serbs struggled to establish national autonomy, gathering of secret data and information was made by means of verbal narrating of eyewitnesses and hirelings, written deliveries and passwords.

The gaining of autonomy (1830) resulted in wider organizing of political intelligence work in Serbia. With aim to protect the security of Princess Ljubica, the Administration of the town of Belgrade" was founded in 1830. On April 2, 1831, Prince Milos enacted Decree on establishing "the Secret police for political affairs" within the Belgrade police.

The state administration in the Principality of Serbia was organized by issuing the document "Structuring of the Central State Administration" on March 10, 1862, which was important also for the further development of security-intelligence activities. The competence of the Ministry of Internal Affairs included "concern regarding the order, peace, security of individuals and properties in the country, monitoring of the public places, press, journalism and malevolent people and societies".

Following the Berlin Congress (1878), Serbia became an independent country. Upon acquiring its independence, Prince Milan implemented reforms in 1882 related to the army and public security institutions.

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From establishment of the Department for Secret Police Work in 1899 up to the end of WWI in 1918

The civil security-intelligence work has been institutionalized for the first time in Serbia by Law on amendments of the Central State Administration organizing ("Serbian newspapers – The Official Gazette of the Kingdom of Serbia, no. 227, from October 8/20 1899"). By this Law, adopted on October 5/17 1899 on the session of the National Assembly held in Nis, the Department for Secret Police Work was established within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with task "to ensure the preservation of the internal state order and worldly security in general ".

This Department's field of work included intelligence and counterintelligence activities, suppression of anti-state propaganda and outlaw activities, suppression of terrorism, corruption and similar.

On October 11/23, 1899, Jovan S. Milovanovic was named the first Head of the Department. Milovanovic was the founder of Serbian stenography, the former president of the Trade court and retired member of the Appellation court.

In terms of organization, the secret polices of France and Austria-Hungary served as models to the Department for Secret Police Work. The Law stipulated that, apart from the Head of Department, the Department should have its secretary and lower ranking officials, as well as an independent archive that stored "all the acts of confidential nature" "under the special surveillance and care of the Head of Department". Duty of the first secretary of this Department was carried out by Milan M. Djordjevic.

In accordance with the King Aleksandar Obrenovic's Decree in 1900, the Police department in the Ministry of Interior became competent for the work of the Department for Secret Police Work.

Respecting the significance of the first legal structuring of civil security-intelligence work in Serbia, the Security-Information Agency celebrates October 17 as its day.

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Between the World Wars (1918-1941.)

After the end of World War I and constitution of new state – the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, according to the Decree on Organizing Ministry of Internal Affairs from May 8, 1919, the Directorate for Public Security of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was in charge of performing civil security-intelligence work.

The Department for State Protection was established by decision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs passed on December 23, 1920. According to this decision, the department had task to "gather information, organise supervision and undertake all the necessary measures against persons, either our citizens or foreigners, who disturb integrity of the state, are involved in propaganda activity for the benefit of some other state and contrary to our own state interests and whose earlier or current activities can be considered suspicious".

According to the Code of Conduct adopted on January 10, 1921, the Department for State Protection was divided into 4 sections and 27 subsections.

The first section comprised 5 subsections: 1. Secretariat, 2. Archive, 3. Registrar's Office, 4. Passports and movement of passengers and 5. Journalist subsection.

The second section was divided into 6 subsections: 1. Communists and Anarchists, 2. Suspicious Russians, 3. Immigration Agency, 4. Control of Foreigners, 5. Associations and Clubs and 6. Foreign Offices.

The third section consisted of 9 subsections: 1. Italian propaganda, 2. Austrian and German propaganda, 3. Hungarian propaganda, 4. Romanian propaganda, 5. Other suspicious foreigners, 6. Suspicious citizens of Croatia and Slavonia, 7. Suspicious citizens of Slovenia, 8. Suspicious citizens of Vojvodina and 9. Suspicious citizens of Dalmatia.

The fourth section included 7 subsections: 1. Bulgarian propaganda, 2. Arnaut propaganda, 3. Muslim propaganda, 4. Greece propaganda, 5. Suspicious citizens of Serbia, 6. Suspicious citizens of Bosnia and 7. Suspicious citizens of Montenegro.

Field of activity of the Department for State Protection was regulated in detail by the Instruction for suppressing anti-state propaganda and foreign espionage passed on November 26, 1923. In line with this act, the department was responsible for intelligence and counter-intelligence police issues, control, security and keeping of records on foreigners, dealing with immigrant issues and repatriation, suppression of anti-state propaganda, control of foreign military defectors, monitoring and control of associations, various gatherings and manifestations and other issues on which a proper record was kept. Furthermore, the department was in charge of drafting new bills with aim to protect the state.

After abolition of the Vidovdan Constitution and dismissal of parliament on January 6, 1929, and then establishment of new government led by Petar Živković, a series of laws and regulations on state administration reform were adopted.

According to the Law on Internal Administration from January 19, 1929 and the Decree on Structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Department for State Protection developed into the First Department within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The department was divided into 2 sections (first section – for suppressing internal anti-state and destructive propaganda and conducting actions along with the intelligence service and second section – for suppressing external anti-state propaganda and conducting actions along with the intelligence service) and 3 subsections (Subsection for police supervision of foreigners and passenger traffic, Administrative Subsection and Subsection for the Press).

The Department for State Protection was organised in this way up to the occupation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941.

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World War II (1941. - 1945.)

Upon the end of April war and signing capitulation on April 17, 1941, the Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia continued to act within the immigration government.

Intelligence service of the refugee government continued its work within missions in allied and neutral states which offered hospitability. The work was primarily oriented towards maintaining relations with motherland and providing financial help to the Movement of Draža Mihajlović, as well as conducting intelligence activities directed to the mission of the self-proclaimed Independent State of Croatia in Madrid.

One of the founders of intelligence service of the immigration government was Vladeta Milićević who acted as Minister of Interior from 1943 to 1944. After the war he continued performing intelligence tasks for King Petar II Karađorđević and returned to country in 1966.

From the very beginning of World War II and establishment of partisan movement, People's Liberation Boards were set up as governing bodies which included bodies in charge of order and security in certain territories. At the consultations in Stolice near Krupanj on September 26, 1941, first intelligence and counter-intelligence services were established and their organisational structure and mutual relationship was determined, while in late October 1941 were appointed first intelligence (information) officers in partisan headquarters.

In mid-September 1943 in Jajce, the Office for Protection of People was established within the Supreme Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia and Yugoslav partisan units with task to unit intelligence and counter-intelligence work and set up an intelligence service (advanced trainings were organised, as well).

On May 13, 1944, the office developed into the Section for Protection of People (OZN) within the Agency for People's Protection of the National Committee for Liberation of Yugoslavia.

The Belgrade agreement signed by Josip Broz Tito and President of Royal Government Ivan Šubašić on November 1, 1944 acknowledged international and legal continuity of Yugoslavia. By a decree of royal regents and upon the proposal of AVNOJ Presidency a new joint government – the Interim Government of Democratic Federative Yugoslavia – was established on March 7, 1945.

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Period between 1945 and 2002

The Section for Protection of People (OZN) was established on military principles on May 13, 1944 as central counter-intelligence and intelligence service within the Agency for People's Protection of the National Committee for Liberation of Yugoslavia. OZN operative unit was established on August 15, 1944 under the name of People's Defence Corps of Yugoslavia (KNOJ).

OZN field of activity included intelligence work directed abroad and towards occupied territory, counter-intelligence protection of liberated territory and military counter-intelligence work. OZN consisted of 6 divisions: first division – intelligence work, second division – counter-intelligence service in liberated territory, third division – counter-intelligence service in the army, fourth division – for statistics and technology, fifth division – for detecting and countering activities of foreign services (as of January 1945) and sixth division – for counter-intelligence protection of transportation objects and institutions in the country (as of April 1945).

The Section for Protection of People in Serbia was established in June 1944, while the same sections in Vojvodina and Kosovo and Metohia were set up in August the same year.

Furthermore, in October 1944 a special department of OZN was established for the City of Belgrade which was directly subordinate to the Ministry of National Defence of the Democratic Federative Yugoslavia.

After the adoption of Constitution of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (FNRY) on January 31, 1946, reorganisation of state bodies and state administration was performed according to which a part of OZN was transferred from the Ministry of National Defence to the Ministry of Interior.

At the end of the process in March 1946, I, II, V , VI and some parts of IV division (the Radio Centre and the Ciphering Group) of OZN were gathered to form the State Security Department (UDB).

UDB was strictly centralized and included: UDB in the Ministry of Interior (MUP) of FNRY, UDB bodies at the level of ministries and UDB authorizations for districts. As of July 1952, UDB members were introduced civil titles.

UDB had the following field of activity: "organising service, undertaking measures and performing governing tasks with the aim of detecting and preventing activities oriented towards undermining and disrupting constitutionally determined economic, political and legal order and gathering information to this effect."

UDB was divided into 8 departments: 1. Intelligence department, 2. Political department (struggle against internal enemy), 3. Counter-intelligence department, 4. Relations and keeping of records 5. Service for material and technical protection and financial affairs, 6. Counter-intelligence protection of the highest state and party officials, 7. Cryptography protection of secret data and 8. Personnel department.

After the Brijuni plenary session in July 1966, UDB was reorganised. The State Security Service (SDB) was established by the Basic Law on Internal Affairs within the Federal Secretariat for Internal Affairs (SSUP). State security work was decentralised, transferred to newly established republic and provincial security services within republic or provincial secretariats responsible for internal affairs, and directed, coordinated and harmonised by SSUP.

After the breakdown of SFRY, the State Security Directorate of the Republic of Serbia was established in the Republic of Serbia within the Ministry of Interior by the Law on Internal Affairs and the Decree on principles for internal organisation and systematization of working posts in ministries and specialised organizations from 1991.

The State Security Directorate ceased to exist in 2002 with the adoption of the Law on Security-Information Agency.

The Security-Information Agency is established in July 27, 2002 by the Law on Security-Information Agency. According to the law, for the first time in modern Serbian history civil security-intelligence work is separated from the Ministry of Interior.

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Security Information Agency

At the end of February 2001, after the political changes and the constitution of the new Government of the Republic of Serbia, besides the personnel changes, the organizational changes within the structure of the Directorate of State Security took place as well. The newly adopted Rule book presented certain changes and amendments with regards to the previous organization and systematization of positions, but it also brought about the establishment of new organizational units. The new organization, with some minor changes, was maintained until mid-2002 and the adoption of the Law on the Security Information Agency.       

In 2002, as the result of the newly created social and political circumstances, the altered nature of the security challenges, risks and threats, as well as the new standards in organizing the performance of security and intelligence tasks, the Security Information Agency was established.  

The establishment of the Agency was recognized as a new organisational and institutional solution which, at the given time, met the security needs of Serbian society in the best possible way, taking into account the security threats and available personnel and material resources.   

Meanwhile, this national, civil security service has proved to be the key actor in defending vital national interests, due to its main, preventive role - early detection of threat indicators and operating proactively with the aim of preventing, eliminating and mitigating the threats.

As for its personnel policy, projecting the desirable profile of the member of the national security service of the Republic of Serbia in the first half of XXI century, besides some "timeless" qualities and characteristics, such as patriotism and professionalism, the Agency also promotes some new values, necessary for successful completion of the tasks from its scope of work, including high intellectual abilities and readiness for learning and acquiring new knowledge and skills.    

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