For You

01

SIS 2018 Annual Report

Bratislava, June 2019
  1. Introduction
  2. SIS strategic focus
    1. Security
    2. Counterterrorism
    3. Counterespionage
    4. Illegal migration
    5. Countering organized crime
    6. Trading in defense industry products and proliferation
    7. Extremist scene
    8. Pseudo-religious groups
    9. Socially excluded communities
    10. Protection of classified information and security vetting for external applicants
    11. Protection of cyberspace
    12. Economy
    13. Corruption and nepotism
    14. Mismanagement of state and municipal property
    15. Customs, tax and financial frauds
    16. Foreign economic relations of the Slovak Republic
    17. Foreign politics
    18. Ukraine
    19. Russian Federation
    20. Western Balkans
    21. Crisis and conflict regions
    22. Heightened terrorist threat to Slovak nationals in tourist resorts
    23. Hybrid threats
  3. Cooperation with state bodies and notification duty
    1. Intelligence production for external clients
  4. Situation, principal activities and oversight of the Slovak Information Service
    1. Personnel
    2. Main indicators
    3. Spending and material and technical provisioning
    4. Spending
    5. Material and technical provisioning
    6. Intelligence-technical means (ITM) and the privacy of telecommunication
    7. Legal framework for ITM use
    8. ITM use
    9. Cooperation with intelligence services in other countries
    10. Legislation and inspection
    11. Legislation
    12. Inspection
    13. Expert state supervision
  5. A report on the activity of the National Security and Analytical Centre (NBAC)
  6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

01

This report contains information on duties, activities, and results of the Slovak Information Service in 2018. It includes the Report on the Activity of the National Security and Analytical Centre (NBAC) in 2018 in accordance with its statutes.

SIS is the guarantor of intelligence protection of the state in the framework of the Slovak security system. It actively cooperates with partner intelligence services and international organizations to avoid and eliminate security risks and threats in the common space of the EU and NATO, which the Slovak Republic shares with other member states, and protect the security of the international community.

By fulfilling its tasks in the evaluation period, the Slovak Information Service was positively contributing to the intelligence protection of the constitutional and internal order of the Slovak Republic, ensuring state security, and protecting and enforcing the Slovak economic and foreign policy interests.

2. Strategic Focus

2.1 Security

Counterterrorism

02

The Slovak Information Service evaluated the security situation in Slovakia in 2018 as stable in terms of potential terrorist threats. In the evaluation period, we did not acquire any intelligence suggesting a real threat of a terrorist attack against Slovakia, planning or carrying out a terrorist attack in Slovakia, or any real threat to the citizens or interests of the Slovak Republic abroad.

Particularly the security situation in the EU countries most affected by terrorism determined the potential of terrorist threat in Slovakia. In 2018, no large-scale terrorist attack occurred in Europe, while the number of completed small individual terrorist attacks decreased compared to the previous year thanks to the fact that various attacks inspired by the propaganda of the jihadist organization Daesh were thwarted.

In this context, the Slovak Information Service gave its priority intelligence attention to Daesh’s presence in the European space and informed its external statutory clients on Daesh’s activities, capacities and possible terrorist threats in cyberspace. We also informed our external statutory clients on the new trend of using the sophisticated modus operandi involving chemical and biological toxins, detected in connection with the thwarted attacks, and on the seriousness of the radicalization phenomenon in prisons and its influence on the security environment in future Europe.

We pointed out that the terrorist threat of another significant actor on the global jihadist scene Al-Qaeda Core, its branches and related/affiliated groups was not over yet. In its propaganda, AQ declared a continued interest in carrying out terrorist attacks in the West.

We informed our external statutory clients on the higher probability of terrorist/security incidents during the significant mass sports events of an international character (2018 Winter Olympics Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, and 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia) representing an attractive potential target for terrorists. At the end of 2018, we informed our external statutory clients on the higher risks of terrorist attacks in Europe (including in Central European countries) during the Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

In general, the Slovak Muslim community continued to express itself moderately in the evaluation period. The online activities of sympathizers of Islam living in Slovakia were mostly focused on publishing the cases of religious intolerance in society and verbal aggression against refugees, Muslims and symbols of Islam. The Muslim community in Slovakia did not publicly react to the events associated with terrorist attacks with an Islamist background. No open spreading of jihadist content or sympathies for jihadist organizations were noticed. However, the activities of a few individuals on social media websites were identified as potentially threat posing.

At the end of 2018, the SIS evaluated the tasks arising from the 2015-2018 National Action Plan to Counter Terrorism (NAP). The tasks set for the SIS or cosponsored by the SIS were assessed as fulfilled. At the same time, the SIS actively participated in the preparation of the NAP for 2019-2022.

Counterespionage

03

In 2018, we noticed persistent intensive hostile intelligence activities aimed at Slovak citizens (particularly diplomats) abroad. We investigated these activities in cooperation with partner services abroad. One of the counterespionage preventive measures at Slovak diplomatic missions was our cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic in terms of pre-travel preparation of seconded employees. In 2018, the SIS offered specialized workshops on intelligence protection for the personnel of state bodies sent via the MFEA SR to the Slovak diplomatic missions abroad. Similar briefings were provided to designated Slovak ambassadors posted to missions abroad.

In 2018, we monitored hostile intelligence activities against the interests of the Slovak Republic and its allies in accordance with our priorities set. The activities of the Russian intelligence services were focused on the protected interests of Slovakia as an EU and NATO member state. Russian intelligence officers, acting in Slovakia mostly under the diplomatic cover, tried to recruit collaborators in central administrative bodies, security forces and energy and defense sectors. Also the Chinese intelligence services manifested their interest in Slovakia. They mostly tried to obtain the information about information and telecommunication technology.

We paid regular attention to the potentially high-risk diplomatic/expat communities that could be misused for intelligence activities.

Illegal migration

04

The number of illegal immigrants travelling to Europe in 2018 was the lowest in the last five years. However, the security threats resulting from illegal migrants coming to EU remained. We noticed that the strongest migration pressure was on the so-called western Mediterranean migration route leading from Africa to Spain, while the other frequently used route was the so-called eastern Mediterranean migration route leading to Greece. Contrarily, the number of immigrants illegally coming to Italy significantly decreased in 2018 compared to 2017.

In the first half of 2018, the use of the new migration route activated at the end of 2017 and leading through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy to Austria was visible in the Western Balkan region. Consequently, noticeably more immigrants came from Pakistan, Syria and Afghanistan. We informed our external statutory clients that Bosnia and Herzegovina, while having the appropriate conditions for spreading radical Islam, could also become the safe haven for radicalized persons or veterans from conflict zones in the Middle East and the place for radicalization for a part of illegal immigrants coming to the EU member states. In the Slovak security context, we particularly monitored the transit of illegal immigrants coming to the EU on the Ukrainian route. In this regard, we turned our external clients’ attention to the possible rise in illegal migration of Bangladeshi and Vietnamese citizens through the eastern Slovak border forming the Schengen external border.

The efforts of individuals from high-risk countries to misuse legal entry to Slovakia continued in 2018. We informed our external statutory clients about these individual efforts. We noticed a continued growing trend in the sophisticated forms of migration from high-risk countries, such as sham marriages and creating bogus residence for the purpose of doing business, family reunification and study. In most of these cases, applicants pursue the sole aim of obtaining legal residence in the Schengen area.

Organized groups or agencies, whose activities focus on arranging residence in Slovakia mostly for the citizens of Iran, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, former Soviet Union countries, Egypt, Syria and Turkey (Kurds), participate in these activities. The individuals involved collect high financial commissions for this activity. The extraordinary lucrativeness of illegal migration’s sophisticated methods creates the breeding ground for organized criminal structures under the cover of trading companies, whose core business activity is to provide for the arrivals of individuals from high-risk countries.

Countering organized crime

041

While uncovering the illegal activities of organized crime, we focused on Slovak organized groups, which are currently engaged in economic crime, and foreign-language-speaking groups, which are involved in economic crime, smuggling and drug trafficking and try to establish themselves in Slovakia after the major domestic organized crime groups were broken up.

The principal source of income for organized crime groups in Slovakia is economic crime, which is very often coupled with corruption (subsidy fraud, customs and tax fraud, smuggling and rigged tenders, which we inform about in the separate chapters of this report).

Drug crime represents another major source of income for organized crime in Slovakia. Slovakia is not a relevant target country for drug traffickers; it is mostly a transit territory or temporary storage on the drug routes leading to Western Europe.

Cheap synthetic drugs, which are easier to obtain and represent a growing risk, increasingly replace natural drugs. Regarding the fight against organized crime, we continue to pay increased attention to the crime on the Slovak-Ukrainian border. On this border, various organized crime groups cooperate with Ukrainian organized groups from Transcarpathia in goods smuggling, organizing illegal migration, trafficking of forged documents and banknotes, and arms and drug trafficking.

As to violent crime, we obtained information on individuals who committed or ordered murders, duress by threatening with physical harm, robbers, evading prison sentences, hiding places of wanted criminals, threats of killing persons, and other illegal activities.

The SIS investigated the activities of residents and foreign persons whose criminal activity might have been connected with the organization of the journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée’s murder. There was intensive exchange of information with partner services on this and we sent the information to our external statutory clients.

The SIS focused on various Balkan, Russian-speaking and Asian organized groups whose activities in the EU are the subject of bilateral and multilateral cooperation of European intelligence services, in which we participate.

In the context of the organized crime’s corruption activities, we obtained information on suspicions that members of some organized groups had contacts or cooperated with judiciary and police.

So far, we have not noticed any significant negative change in connection with the visa liberalization for Ukrainian citizens and its impact on organized crime in Slovakia. However, the risk is that individuals from crisis zones in Eastern Ukraine move to Ukraine’s Hungarian, Slovak and Polish borders together with members of organized groups, which are involved in arms and drug trafficking, or various property offences such as car theft.

Members of international organized crime were still interested in establishing a Slovak base. One method they used to entrench themselves in Slovakia legally was through establishing companies with foreign capital and creating fictitious jobs for foreigners in them.

Trading in defense industry products and proliferation

05

In 2018, we collected information on trading in defense industry products (DIP); commercial transactions with firearms and ammunition; legality of their acquisition and possession; and proliferation of dual-use items and other dangerous materials. We sent several pieces of information on suspected unlawful conduct or violation of the applicable legislation to state authorities. We monitored the commercial transactions and handling of controlled goods, technologies and services in Slovakia as well as activities of Slovak natural and artificial persons carried out abroad. Together with Slovak authorities, we took an active part in the licensing procedures connected with approving deals in defense industry products, dual-use items trade or verification of business and financial transactions with the goods the possession of which is limited for safety reasons.

In 2018, we sent an opinion on 862 applications for license to trade in defense industry products abroad and 87 applications relating to deals in designated goods the possession of which is limited for safety reasons. We also sent an opinion on 10 applications for issuing a license to export dual-use items.

Our focus was mostly on the DIP exports to regions with raging conflicts and states carrying a higher risk of these goods being re-exported. Our intelligence attention was on the DIP trade in which high-risk entities were involved (participating directly or indirectly as intermediaries).

When it comes to DIP trade, identification of the real end-user is very important. We noticed the cases when there were doubts as to whether defense industry products were really destined for that particular country despite the declarations by relevant foreign partners. In some cases, we noticed the submission of forged end-user licenses. In addition, we noticed the efforts of persons of interest to obtain arms and ammunition suspected of being destined for unofficial or non-government military groups or terrorist organizations.

Another our concern was thefts of military materiel from the warehouses of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic and suspicions of illegal arming and trafficking in weapons by individuals and organized groups.

In 2018, we continued monitoring dual-use item trade to raise the awareness of this topic by using precautionary measures to lower the risks coming from their possible misuse by high-risk countries when developing nuclear and missile programs. Various embargoed and sanctioned foreign entities tried to obtain goods classified as dual-use via dummy and cover entities. More and more often, the so-called transit countries emerge as declared end-users. Either they have good bilateral relations with high-risk countries or they have not introduced such legal rules and procedures that would prevent the goods controlled in Slovakia from being exported to high-risk regions.

We also actively participated in multilateral international cooperation regarding counter-proliferation.

We kept our intelligence focus on category D firearms (e.g. Flobert firearms, expansion firearms, percussion firearms, etc.). In 2018, it was still possible to modify category A, B and C firearms into category D firearms or make new category D firearms from the identical main parts of category A, B and C firearms under the Slovak legislation. These arms were still at a high risk of being reactivated, misused, difficult to trace or inadequately controlled by state authorities. In the context of different legislations in other EU member states in this area, in particular more rigorous treatment of category D weapons, which are legally sold in Slovakia, these weapons were in some cases treated as illegal when taken out of Slovakia. A number of firearms coming from Slovakia was seized abroad in 2018 (e.g. in Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Italy). In each case, the weapons were modified into category D weapons in accordance with the Slovak legislation and legally sold afterwards. The SIS has long been cooperating on this with its partner intelligence services, the core activity being the exchange of information on various high-risk purchases of weapons. In foreign countries, the cooperation has already led to the detention of several high-risk individuals and seizure of weapons, and to the uncovering of many forged or non-existing documents, which kept being illegally used for purchasing category D firearms in Slovakia.

The risk of possible misuse of the commercially available unmanned aircraft by various terrorist groups or individuals to plan or carry out terrorist attacks persisted worldwide. There are persons in the EU who came from combat zones in Syria/Iraq, where drones were successfully used in combat or terrorist attacks. Standard radars cannot detect drones and a special technology is necessary for their detection and elimination. In the EU (including Slovakia), it is possible to buy, without any restriction, various types of affordable drones that can be used in a terrorist attack. Drone sellers are not obliged to keep the record of key components or drones sold, which might worsen the identification of an attacker more difficult. Notwithstanding the existing legal framework regulating the use of drones in public space, the offences committed with drones are currently not considered dangerous for society and due to the mentioned technical reasons, it is complicated to prosecute the offenders. In 2018, we gave lectures to the personnel at various state bodies, stressing to them what the risks of misusing unmanned aircraft are and what they can do to protect themselves.

Extremist scene

06

In 2018, the Slovak far-right wing extremist scene (XRW) main representatives and sympathizers focused their activities mostly on strengthening their political and social influence.

The criticism of the Slovak government and membership of Euro-Atlantic structures remained the XRW presentation theme during the evaluation period. During the municipal elections campaign, an anti-Roma and anti-migration agenda also resonated.

We informed our external statutory clients about suspected extremist crimes committed by XRW representatives, such as the crime of trading in extremist materials online, crime of defaming state symbols, or the crime of presenting extremist symbols and slogans in public. Based on this information, a number of extremism-related charges was brought against XRW members. The criticism of these charges subsequently became the agenda for XRW online and public activities.

We also informed our external statutory clients on the activities of a new international nationalist organization, the Identitarian Movement (Hnutie identity).

In 2018, the XRW representatives lessened their activities connected with the organization of XRW music performances in Slovakia.

We also informed our external statutory clients on possible risks from radical football fans (hooligans) at football stadiums and outside them. In this context, we pointed to the suspicion of organizers tolerating extremist manifestations and to other their failures when organizing football matches, also in the context of the Slovak football clubs partaking in European club competitions, something that could harm Slovakia’s reputation abroad.

In 2018, we monitored the activities of unregistered groups whose members focused on recruit new members and increase the level of combat training courses.

We monitored two rides of the Russian outlaw motorcycle club Night Wolves (NW) through Slovakia. The law was not violated. Regarding the NW activities in Slovakia, we evaluated the security threats connected with founding the NW’s Slovak base, NW Europe, in Dolná Krupá, district of Trnava, in June 2018.

Members of the Slovak extreme left wing (XLW) scene aimed to criticize and discredit Slovak XRW representatives and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual (LGBTI) persons in 2018. New themes emerged on the Slovak XLW scene in 2018, e.g. the support for Kurdish military activities in Syria, the fight for gender equality and environmental activities against mining and burning brown coal.

Pseudo-religious groups

07

When monitoring the activities of harmful sectarian groupings and pseudo-religious communities in Slovakia, we gave priority attention to the entities carrying out controversial or even risk-posing activities, including the attempts to infiltrate the education system in Slovakia and mentally manipulate their sympathizers.

We informed our external statutory clients on the continued efforts of a high-risk entity to penetrate the educational process of children and youth as an association linked to it organized anti-drug lectures at primary and secondary schools. Supported by popular sportsmen and artists, who probably did not know about the citizens association’s links to a sectarian grouping, it runs a media campaign to collect money and promote its activities in a positive way. A similar modus operandi was used in the effort to penetrate detention centers and prisons in Slovakia.

In 2018, another high-risk entity continued influencing the process of its registration as a church (religious community) recognized by the state, using contacts to influential persons from Slovakia and abroad. The entity also continued to engage in the project whose aim was to rehabilitate drug addicts — using it as a cover to acquire new members and positively promote the purportedly charitable character of its activities.

Socially excluded communities

We informed our external statutory clients on the ongoing illegal activities of Slovak citizens active in socially excluded communities whose focus was on human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution and forced labor, usury, human smuggling and selling passports, particularly in eastern Slovakia. In the context of the 2018 municipal elections, we warned our external statutory clients that some village representatives who belong to socially excluded communities violate the rules that govern public work and duties of the public officer.

Protection of classified information and security vetting for external applicants

08

In 2018, we participated in the security vetting carried out by the National Security Authority (NBÚ), Military Intelligence and the Police Corps. We provided information on the security credibility of candidates and businesspersons to the relevant applicants as stipulated by the Act No. 215/2004 Coll. on the Protection of Classified Information. We participated in the process of collecting information under Section 75(1)(e) of this law to help assess the judicial competence of candidates for judge. We did so by providing information from our databases to the National Security Authority.

We also participated in the vetting of persons under Section 14(4) of the Act No. 473/2005 Coll. on the Provision of Services in the Area of Private Security by means of statements at the request of the Office for Private Security Services of the Police Corps Presidium and regional police directorates. Furthermore, we issued statements at the request of the Transport Office’s Civil Aviation Division to assess the credibility of persons under Section 34a(5) of the Act No. 143/1998 Coll. on Civil Aviation.

We provided statements under Section 5(2 and 4) of the Act No. 392/2011 Coll. on Trading in Defense Industry Products to the Ministry of Economy in respect of company applications for licenses to trade and mediate deals in defense industry products.

In 2018, we sent 399 statements on applicants for Slovak citizenship containing facts important for decision-making under the Act No. 40/1993 on Citizenship. The statements were sent at the request of the Public Administration Section of the Ministry of Interior under Section 8a(3) of this law.

We carried out administrative vetting of 256 persons at the request of the Ministry of Interior’s Migration Office under Section 19a(9) of the Act No. 480/2002 Coll. on Asylum.

We also carried out administrative vetting of 26,270 persons at the request of the Office of the Border and Foreign Police of the Police Corps Presidium under Section 125(6) of the Act No. 404/2011 Coll. on Foreigners’ Residence.

Protection of cyberspace

Regarding cyberspace protection, we informed our external statutory clients on a number of IP addresses registered in Slovakia that could be misused for cyberattacks. Via these addresses, data leakages from the information systems of some state bodies and scanning for vulnerabilities for subsequent cyberattacks in Slovakia might take place.

When it comes to cyberspace protection, we focused our attention on the responsibilities arising for us from the Act No. 69/2018 on Cyber Security, according to which the Slovak Information Service is a central body in the structure of public bodies in Slovakia and creates one of four CSIRT units, which will reinforce the protection of strategic areas of the state administration when interconnected.

There is a presumption that information networks in Slovakia will continue to be the target of the cyberattacks the aim of which is to gain access to various information and data.

Within international cooperation, the SIS focused on the persisting incidents of electronic espionage infiltration campaigns that used different variants of malicious code. There was a suspicion that some hacker campaigns oriented on the information systems in Slovakia were backed by hostile intelligence services.

2.2 Economy

Corruption and nepotism

09

In 2018, we obtained information and intelligence signals on suspected corruption of state employees, local-government representatives and managers of state-owned companies. They were particularly the suspicions of non-transparent allocation of funds from the Budget and EU funds and rigged tenders in favor of preferred candidates for public contracts. Suspected cases of corruption were uncovered inside the Financial Administration, Police and courts.

At the municipal level, we obtained information on several suspected cases of corruption and non-transparent granting of contracts financed by local authorities or co-financed by the state. The contracts involved public lighting and public space reconstruction, liquidation of illegal landfills, urban heating and water supply. The contractors also invoiced highly overpriced and fictitious work to municipalities. The difference was supposedly used to bribe the persons involved.

Suspected corruption was identified in the process of contributing and using non-repayable EU money for municipal development projects. The information obtained pointed to the persistent efforts of various interest groups to participate in projects financed through non-repayable grants and to the associated risk of tender manipulation in favor of these groups. In this regard, we informed the competent authorities about several entrepreneurs who supposedly provided for the approval of non-repayable grants for agreed municipal projects and secured non-transparent grants of contracts for these projects to predetermined companies using contacts to state and municipal officers.

We registered suspected electoral fraud and also focused our intelligence attention on the transparency of activities of state and municipally-owned companies.

As to the provision of agricultural subsidies, we noticed possible corruption cases when these subsidies were approved and their spending was audited, which enabled the subsidy recipients to obtain subsidies for uncultivated land.

Corruption in leasing state agricultural land under disadvantageous conditions for the state is also linked to these cases.

The SIS focused its attention on suspected corruption in the Police Corps, Financial Administration and courts. We sent information to our recipients about the police officers who possibly took bribes for cooperating with organized crime groups in goods smuggling through the Slovak-Ukrainian border, providing service information to unauthorized persons, and performing the activities to frustrate investigations into the related party’s criminal activities.

Money laundering

We sent recipients intelligence on suspicions about a large amount of illegally obtained funds supposedly legalized by investments into precious metals. The investors were letterbox companies based abroad that sold the precious metals afterwards and transferred the money abroad again. The transactions included several companies and bank institutions in various countries in order to make the financial flows non-transparent on purpose.

The SIS obtained information on large suspicious and non-transparent transactions with investments and financial transfers between Slovak and foreign companies. It is very likely that these transactions were connected with sophisticated money laundering and tax fraud.

Customs, tax and financial fraud

We collected information on organized groups in Slovakia whose members were suspected of crimes involving income tax, VAT and excise duty. Most of these cases were suspected tax crimes involving fictitious transactions between connected companies with an aim of reducing fraudulently the tax base of artificial persons and the VAT, or to claim illegal VAT repayments. The companies that are part of carrousel networks have their dummy directors controlled by orchestrators of the fraud. These dummy directors and owners, who are often foreigners, are regularly replaced and the companies they ostensibly control cease to exist by merging with a successor company without declaring bankruptcy. Eventually, the successor company is deleted from the register of companies after the bankruptcy action is frustrated on the grounds of missing property.

A person providing accounting services and economic counselling created a carrousel network to help reduce, via fictitious deals with companies in that carousel network, the tax paid by his clients’ companies.

We also informed our statutory clients on the suspicion that certain prominent food producers attempted to reduce their tax burden by means of making fictitious deals.

Our statutory clients received information on an international network of companies that made fictitious carrousel deals with each other in order to be able to claim and receive illegal VAT repayments.

Regarding excise fraud, we noticed a number of cases when tobacco products were smuggled through the Slovak-Ukrainian border. Our statutory clients received information on the excise fraud in mineral oils, which the orchestrators sold via a network of petrol stations whose operators were companies with dummy directors.

Throughout the year, we continued to monitor various attempts to orchestrate Ponzi schemes and ‘profitable investments’ in shady securities offering a high interest rate.

Mismanagement of state and municipal property

In this area, the SIS focused its intelligence attention mostly on suspicions concerning damage to the state economic interests in state-owned energy companies. In this regard, the SIS informed its recipients e.g. about the worsening financial condition of an energy company in which the state had a substantial stake, which could make the company unable to pay its debts.

In connection with the planned completion of a large energy project, we informed the recipients about the suspicions of overpriced or fictitious supplies of goods and services during its implementation and risks that could lead to higher costs, delaying completion and various other problems accompanying the project.

During the evaluation period, the SIS monitored various suspicious transactions in connection with municipal-owned property and dealt with suspicions of damaging state interests in state-owned companies with regard to concluding disadvantageous long-term contracts.

Customs, tax and financial fraud

Regarding excise fraud in recent years, we noticed a reduction in the fraud relating to alcohol and fuel, mostly because of various changes in the Slovak legislation that significantly reduced this type of tax fraud. Based on the intelligence obtained in 2018, we may state that the distributors who ceased their activities included various companies the SIS had monitored on suspicion of their involvement in tax fraud with mineral oils.

Last year, we sent a number of reports to state institutions about tax fraud organizers who evaded VAT and corporate tax or engaged in VAT fraud via a network of interconnected companies. This information also concerned tobacco smuggling and illegal production and sale of untaxed alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and mineral oils.

The fact that organized networks of interconnected and cooperating companies active in several countries perpetrate the most serious fraud with VAT reclaims complicates the detection and evidencing of those criminal activities. During the detection of tax criminal activities, we noticed cases when tax fraud organizers supposedly cooperated with employees of the Financial Administration.

We informed our recipients on the distribution of tobacco illegally made on illegal production lines in western Slovakia. When uncovering the crime connected with the distribution of untaxed tobacco, we learned that tobacco was smuggled to Slovakia from Ukraine and Hungary. We sent this information to our external clients.

Recently, the cooperation between the SIS and the Financial Administration Criminal Office has significantly improved, particularly regarding the exchange of information about tax and customs crime. The SIS, in parallel, intensified the cooperation with the intelligence services abroad in this field.

Foreign economic relations of the Slovak Republic

In the context of foreign economic relations, the SIS has long been focused on identifying and prognosticating possible cut-offs or serious reductions in gas supplies from Ukraine to Slovakia and threat of diverting gas transit outside the Slovak territory. We focused on reviewing the stability of gas supply and gas transit during the winter heating season, when a reduction or cut-off might have a serious impact on the Slovak economy and citizens.

In the previous heating season of 2017-2018, the finishing of the arbitration dispute between Russian Gazprom and Ukrainian Naftohaz was the risk factor itself. The substantial concerns about the possible unexpected reaction of either party to the result of the arbitration were partially confirmed at the beginning of March 2018, when the normal transit of Russian gas through Ukraine was shortly disrupted. In this regard, the SIS sent several analytical reports that prognosticated inter alia the future situation of the Russian gas transit to Europe and evaluated the risk factors emanating from the ongoing legal dispute between the companies.

The SIS considered the risk of gas transit interruption in the current heating season of 2018/2019 and informed its external statutory clients about possible risk factors.

The SIS focused on the issue of diverting Russian gas transit outside the Slovak territory after 2020 in connection with the construction of new pipelines to transport Russian gas to Europe (Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream). Considering the fact that the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is highly probable, the SIS has analyzed the impacts of the possible transit diversion and the alternative possibilities of using the existing transit pipeline system.

2.3.Foreign policy

Ukraine

11

As in previous years, the SIS paid special attention to the situation in Ukraine, a crisis region with an ongoing armed conflict directly adjacent to Slovakia. The SIS focused mostly on the internal political affairs and security situation in the country, including territories of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and prospects of a political solution to the conflict between the government and the pro-Russian rebels.

The security situation in the eastern part of the country remained unchanged. Low intensity armed confrontations with banned military equipment continued on a daily basis on both sides of the contact line. Events such as the adoption of the Act on Donbas Reintegration, transformation of the so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation into a Joint Forces Operation and a change in the leadership of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic failed to bring significant progress in solving the conflict or prospects of a long-term sustainable improvement of the situation in this part of the Ukrainian territory.

The situation on the internal political scene was influenced by the slow pace of reforms, ongoing corruption and tensions among key political entities regarding the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019. President Petro Poroshenko stepped up his efforts to concentrate power in his hands and increase his declining popularity by bringing up new topics such as the Act on the Ukrainian Language or independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Various Ukrainian political leaders, including oligarchs, tried to tighten their control over the media in order to influence the public opinion in a targeted way. The developments on the Ukrainian internal political scene did not generate an obvious favorite of the March 2019 presidential election or the October 2019 parliamentary election.

The SIS paid special attention to the radical nationalist political scene. Though fragmented and lacking in strong public support, it has ties to paramilitary organizations that pose a serious security threat to Ukraine. Regarding the relationships with the Russian Federation, there was a culmination of tensions in the Sea of Azov resulting in the clash of Russian and Ukrainian naval forces around the Kerch Strait and temporary imposition of martial law in selected frontier regions of Ukraine.

Russian Federation

12

The SIS kept monitoring the trends on the Russian internal political scene and ongoing processes in Russia, mostly in regard to foreign policy activities oriented towards the Euro-Atlantic structures, which Russia still considers its main geopolitical rivals and threat to its security and stability.

The SIS focused on the presidential election of March 18, 2018, which thanks to massive involvement of state institutions and a targeted motivational campaign focused on certain groups of voters (members of the Services, employees of state and public bodies, etc.) resulted in the convicting victory of current President Vladimir Putin. The current ruling regime won strong political mandate to continue with the already established internal and foreign policy. The appointment of the new government, which has largely kept the structure and staff from the previous government, confirmed the tendency towards continuity.

The September 2018 regional and municipal elections presented other significant internal political issues. In Moscow, Putin’s close friend and current Mayor Sergey Sobyanin won as expected. However, in the countryside, mostly in the Asian part of Russia, the elections were influenced by the unpopular pension reform. The election results confirmed the trend of United Russia, the ruling party, losing popularity. The party lost, inter alia, three gubernatorial posts, something unprecedented in Russia.

As to foreign policy, Russia kept consolidating its position of a super power and strengthening its influence in the Middle East and North Africa. The foreign policy paid attention to building alliances with actors that could potentially contribute to the creation of a new multipolar world order.

Western Balkans

13

We monitored the situation in the Western Balkans with respect to efforts of the states to join the EU and because of persisting problems caused by bad interethnic relations, political instability, massive corruption and power struggle. Attempts to influence the political and security situation by other countries (mostly the Russian Federation and Turkey) and the growing influence of radical Islamic ideology were the other significant factor influencing the situation in the region. In Serbia, we focused mostly on events associated with the municipal election in capital city Belgrade in March 2018, in which the ruling Serbian Progressive Party of President Aleksander Vučić won the majority and strengthened its dominant position in the country. After the unsuccessful election, the opposition tried to unite, but its influence remained limited. As to foreign policy, the Serbian government sought to balance the relations between Russia and the West, as it was necessary to satisfy the pro-Russian public opinion while simultaneously keeping the good relationship with the EU out of economic necessity. An unstable political situation persisted in Kosovo. The tensions between three top government officials influenced the situation in the ruling coalition, almost leading to the fall of the government, which eventually did not occur, because no relevant party was interested in an early election. After Kosovo’s failure to join INTERPOL and delay of visa liberalization, the relations between Kosovo and Serbia turned for the worse. It happened mainly because Kosovo hit Serbia with 100% tariffs on goods imported from Serbia. Because of the unfavorable political situation, the agreement on the normalization of the Kosovo-Serbian relationship is likely to be delayed, with more security incidents possible in northern Kosovo. In Macedonia, we monitored a complicated internal situation. Political tensions escalated in June 2018 after the signing of the agreement between Macedonia and Greece on the country’s name. Although the referendum on this agreement was declared not valid, the ruling coalition succeeded in winning a narrow majority in the parliament and passed the constitutional laws necessary to change the country’s name to “Republic of North Macedonia”. In addition, the agreement paved the way for Macedonia to start accession talks with NATO. As to the increasing dynamics of accession talks with NATO, we also evaluated the activities of the Russian Federation towards Macedonia. The complicated political situation persisted in Bosna and Herzegovina. The nationalist and populist rhetoric noticeably intensified again during the election campaign before the October 2018 election. Mainly the traditional nationalist parties of BiH’s constitutional nations (Bosniaks, Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina) succeeded in the election. Besides the autonomist efforts of Serbs, the Croats’ efforts to strengthen their positions and protect their national rights particularly at the level of one of the BiH entities – the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – were complicating the multiethnic relations. The SIS focused mostly on the spread of radical Islam and activities of some countries toward increasing their influence in the region. In Montenegro, we focused on the preparation and organization of the April 2018 presidential election. Milo Đukanović, the leader of the governing Democratic Party of Socialist (DPS), won the election in the first round. In May, municipal elections in the capital city Podgorica and several districts took place, with the DPS winning most of them (also in Podgorica). The opposition Democratic Front (DF) returned to Parliament after a boycott. The detention of the DF leader Nebojša Medojević interrupted the permanent return of the other opposition political parties. Russia changed its attitude towards Montenegro after Montenegro joined NATO, aiming to spread its influence through “soft power”.

Crisis and conflict regions

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We monitored the evolution of the conflict in Syria, where the Syrian government continued to consolidate its control over territories and succeeded in quelling the armed opposition and restoring control over further parts of the territory. Overall, the intensity of the conflict in the central and southern part of the country declined. The situation in the north remains tense and it might escalate. In the province of Idlib in the northwest, the fights over influence between the radical fractions linked to al-Qaeda and Syrian fractions cooperating with Turkey intensified. At the same time, there were incidents between Turkey, which is responsible for the situation in Idlib, according to the agreements between Turkey and the Russian Federation signed in Sochi, and the Syrian pro-government units deployed by the regime along the province’s borders. The tension along the Turkish-Syrian border in the northeast of Syria increased after Turkey started threatening with another cross-border operation against the positions of the Kurdish militia. As the conflict became less and less heated, the question of the country’s reconstruction came to the fore. Syria refused to join the issue of the Assad regime’s political transition toward a more inclusive political system with the issue of reconstruction aid, as the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva demanded. The country was suffering from lack of finances for reconstruction and neither foreign investors nor Syrian allies (the Russian Federation and Iran) wanted to finance it. In this regard, Russia promoted joining the issue of Western financial support for Syria from with the issue of refugees’ return to Syria. The issue of the political solution to the conflict (so-called Geneva Format) took a back seat. The regime was not interested in negotiations with the opposition, which was losing political support from the region, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Only the so-called Astana Format kept functioning, but its primary role was to coordinate the Iranian, Russian and Turkish interests. Therefore, the Syrian regime could continue pursuing a military solution to the conflict.

The SIS focused on the situation in Iran after the USA (as one of the most important signatories to the agreement) withdrew from the so-called deal on Iran’s nuclear program (JCPOA) and once again imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran. The sanctions greatly affected the principal source of income for the Iranian Budget and caused a steep drop in the value of the Iranian currency. This and other structural problems of the Iranian economy resulted in the rapid deterioration of the social situation. The social problems led to unrest and nationwide protests against President Hassan Rouhani’s economic policy, but did not significantly weaken the stability of Iran’s ruling regime. The ruling reformists and opposition conservatives took advantage of the public discontentment to strengthen their positions, yet they agreed that the external enemy (USA) and its effort to destabilize the country was responsible for the situation. The Iranian security forces remained the main guarantor of the regime’s stability.

In 2018, the SIS monitored the situation in Turkey, where President Recep Erdogan kept consolidating his position by decrees strengthening his authority in the field of defense, security and monetary policy and by appointing loyal persons and relatives to key positions. After the victory of R. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the early presidential and parliamentary elections (June 24, 2018), the president created the conditions for the completion of the transformation process from a parliamentary political system to a presidential one. Notwithstanding the evident crisis in relations with the West, it remained an economic strategic priority for Turkey to preserve its relations with the EU and working relations with NATO when it comes to the security policy.

The SIS regularly informed about the persistent instability in Libya, which remained the key source of security threats both to the North-African countries and to the EU. Negative trends prevailed in the Libyan crisis and the internal situation was still extremely complicated and unstable. The disputable legitimacy and mutual rivalry of political fractions, intensive struggle for power and country’s strategic energy resources, as well as the local political, religious, ethnic and armed groups’ tendencies to prefer private interests to state interests prevented the consolidation of the political situation. No regular army and effective security forces, the dominance of local autonomous groups and permanent confrontation between them, and the presence of terrorist groups in Libya remained the key security challenges. The growing popular frustration reflecting the multiyear political stagnation and negative influence of the local armed conflicts on the country’s security and living standards, as well as the accumulation of African migrants in cities along the coast caused a permanent risk of civil disorders and increased migration of Libyans to the EU.

In Egypt, the SIS monitored the events of paramount importance for the country’s future internal situation. Internal security was still highest on the agenda for the regime and there was a continued tendency to preserve internal stability at the cost of fundamental political rights and freedoms. The legislative changes solidified the dominance of the government over the opposition, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Essentially, the opposition’s activities were cut to a minimum without the possibility to mobilize supporters. The country’s economic reforms continued, and despite the fact that popular moods reflected an adverse socioeconomic status of most Egyptians, the potential to protest remained low in society because of people’s apathy and the regime’s systematic suppression of resistance. The security situation was kept being assessed as unstable due to terrorist attacks and the ongoing counterterrorist campaign of security forces, which was carried out to eliminate radical Islamic groups, Daesh’s Egyptian offshoot in particular. The SIS also informed the external clients about the ongoing efforts to diversify Egypt’s portfolio in the military technology and commercial spheres. When it comes to monitoring the economically motivated migration to Europe, we focused mostly on the situation in Tunisia and Morocco, as these countries were previously considered stable and with sufficient measures to suppress unchecked migration. In Tunisia, we registered a higher risk of instability in connection with the already bad social situation of the populace and civil disorders following the introduction of unpopular economic reforms. In Morocco, tensions increased after the massive protests caused by the dissatisfaction at the failure to deal with social problems. Another security risk was the possibility of several hundred foreign terrorist fighters to return from Syria and Libya, and of spreading protests, which eventually were locally held (did not affect the whole country).

In the evaluation period, the SIS focused on Chinese activities. China’s ever more assertive foreign policy was a reflection of its fast growing economic power and investment possibilities. Several countries China had offered to participate in infrastructural projects or invest in their strategic industries became concerned that the Chinese investments could actually pose a long term risk to their security. The reason for concern was that China could use its economic influence as a coercive means of its foreign policy in the future, which is why China frequently had to deal with hurdles posed by nations when trying to invest and acquire companies on their territory. This already cautious approach will probably become even more cautious in the future — something that will substantially complicate the Chinese efforts to acquire hi-tech companies, for instance. As to the “Belt and Road Initiative”, China played an active role mostly on the African continent, but the critics saw these activities as “neocolonialism”. Although China presented it as development aid for African countries, the great investment burden associated with it in some African countries may pose problem for the long term sustainability of their finance. Moreover, China deployed military and naval forces along the subject economic corridor.

Heightened terrorist threat to Slovak nationals in tourist resorts

As part of monitoring the unstable political and security situation in the Middle East and North African countries, the SIS evaluated potential terrorist threat to Slovak nationals and other EU nationals located in the region, particularly regarding the activities of terrorist groups in eastern and southern Mediterranean countries and political instability that could result in major disorders threatening the security of Western nationals.

Thanks to the strict security measures and defeat of Daesh in Syria and Iraq, the general terrorist threat decreased in the southern and eastern Mediterranean regions attractive to tourists, especially in Turkey, which was extremely vulnerable because of its proximity to the so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The threat of terrorist attack persisted in regions with active local offshoots of terrorist groups and high number of returnees previously fighting for jihadist organizations. The Daesh and al-Qaeda online propaganda calling for attacks against Western interests, including the tourist infrastructure, was still intensive.

Egypt with the persistent high risk of armed attacks on convoys/tourist resorts and kidnaps of foreign tourists in the Sinai Peninsula was one of the most dangerous places. The Sinai Peninsula, mainly its northern part, was still the operational space for the Province of Sinai, a Daesh offshoot.

An elevated terrorist threat persisted in Tunisia, where local terrorist cells claiming allegiance to Daesh, Daesh sympathizers operating individually or in small groups away of the authorities’ attentions and returnees from Syria, Iraq and Libya pose prime terrorist threat. Daesh sleeper cells were present in the northeastern and eastern coastal regions, where holiday resorts and historical buildings visited by tourists are located.

In Turkey, the principal terrorist threat resulted from the continued fighting in the north of Syria and persisting conflict with Kurdish militants in the southeastern part of the country. Notwithstanding the weakened Daesh, there were the indications that its sympathizers planned attacks on Western diplomatic missions in Turkey and tourists in Istanbul.

In Morocco, the relatively effective security apparatus has so far managed to prevent the creation of large terrorist organizations. Yet, the SIS noted a heightened terrorist threat in the country from individuals and small cells inspired by the jihadist ideology. This observation was confirmed when two Swedish women were killed in a terrorist attack in December 2018.

Hybrid threats

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The SIS focused on so-called hybrid threats, i.e. nonmilitary hostile activities carried out by state and non-state actors. The Euro-Atlantic community was primarily the target for influence and propaganda activities intended to weaken the EU and NATO cohesion and influence the internal policy and public sentiment in member states. Particularly the so-called alternative media spread the propaganda campaigns and focused on false news and disinformation to discredit the EU and NATO as untrustworthy institutions and membership of them as damaging the national interests of members. The campaigns tried to deepen the public distrust of state institutions and political system itself and deepen the existing differences between various socioeconomic, ethnic and religious groups. This creates the conditions for the easier manipulation and reducing the state’s resistance to external interfering.

So far, Slovakia has not been exposed to any intensive, specially focused hybrid campaign by a state or non-state actor. Nor has there been any recorded use of an aggressive tool such as extensive cyber-attack against the infrastructure, direct support of extremists or massive effort to obtain sensitive information (e.g. politicians’ email communications), which might be manipulated or used to discredit and weaken political entities not suitable for attackers’ interests.

In Slovakia, the Russian Federation developed activities focused mainly on preserving the affinity of the Slovak public with Russia, its culture and policy and on weakening the powers openly skeptical and critical of Russia. The Russian party tried to create an impression before internal and foreign audiences that Slovakia was a close Russian ally, an EU and NATO member that respects and understands Russian interests.

China also expressed its interest in influencing the public and expert opinion in its favor in the EU Member States. The Chinese government tried to create globally oriented think tanks. Their main task was to present the Chinese opinion on current political issues, public opinion forming and data collection.

We intensively cooperated with partner services, mostly with the EU and NATO intelligence structures. We were sending them information that helped to evaluate the situation concerning hybrid threats at the EU level and to formulate counter-threat measures.

3. Cooperation with state bodies and notification duty

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In 2018, like in previous years, we continued to cooperate with ministries and other Slovak state bodies or state institutions. There was active cooperation in the area of the Slovak security, protection of constitutional order, internal order and foreign policy and state economic interests. We actively cooperated with the Office of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, the Office of the President of the Slovak Republic, the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic, central bodies of the State Administration and other offices or institutions. The SIS was actively involved in the activities of various interdepartmental working (expert) groups for solving tasks in the field of counterterrorism, illegal migration, extremism, or nuclear safety.

Together with other relevant state bodies and financial sector representatives, we were involved in preparation for the fifth round of the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures, Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation by the Council of Europe - MONEYVAL.

We fulfilled the tasks following from national strategic documents, such as the 2015-2018 National Action Plan to Counter Terrorism and the 2015-2019 Counter Extremism Strategy.

We cooperated with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic, and the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic. The cooperation concerned securing the required level of physical security and security of buildings, cybersecurity issues, accessing and providing information and data necessary to fulfill the tasks of individual entities.

We intensively cooperated with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investments and Computerization and the National Security Authority on securing state cyber space against potential threats. In cyber security, we were active in the National System of Reaction to Crisis Situations.

There was cooperation in shooting practice and physical tactical training for SIS officers with the Military Training Center in Lešť and the Secondary Grammar School for the Police Corps Bratislava and cooperation in social security issues with the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic. We cooperated with the Social Insurance Agency on electronic data exchange within the EU, aiming for the connection of state power departments to electronic international communication – RINI. The cooperation was at a very good level.

We actively cooperated with the Financial Administration Criminal Office and the Bureau of Border and Foreign Police of the Presidium of the Police Force on some issues (drug trafficking, migration, etc.).

In order to prevent and eliminate the risks following from espionage and cyber threats, we continued with the Security Awareness Program for state institutions dedicated to improving the safety of information technology and counterespionage protection.

Intelligence production for customers

As of December 31, 2018, the Slovak Information Service had elaborated 244 intelligence products for our external clients covering all areas of the Strategic Focus. Out of this number, 136 (56%) were on security, 51 (21%) on economy and 57 (23%) on foreign policy issues.

The details are in the tables and chart below

Table: Summary of intelligence production from January 1 to December 31, 2018

4. Situation, principal activities and oversight of the Slovak Information Service

4.1 Personnel

Main indicators

On December 31, 2018 the service’s staffing level was at 82.21% of the plan, which is a very small increase compared to 2017 (81.64% of the plan on December 31, 2017).

The composition of the staff has not changed considerably compared to previous years. Sixty per cent of the personnel was male and 40 per cent, female. There are fewer officers aged under 40 (29.5%) than middle-aged officers between 40 and 50 (46%). Seventy per cent of officers have a university degree (including bachelor’s degree). In 2018, 91.64 per cent of officers were in permanent civil service, 8.02 per cent, in preparatory civil service and less than one per cent (0, 34%), in temporary civil service.

New recruits and officers with some work experience were gradually placed into various intelligence training courses in order for them to receive specialized intelligence education and meet the legal requirements for intelligence education and the service’s needs. In 2018, we carried out 19 intelligence training activities. Language courses continued — we carried out five internal language courses.

In 2018, further training courses were aimed at obtaining special competences in accordance with the law, necessary for the performance of public service. In this area, we carried out 72 training courses. Several hundreds of citizens applied for a position in the SIS. Of them, 49.3 per cent met the requirements, their professional profile matched the service’s needs and they underwent the admission process, with16.2 per cent succeeding in getting the job (which represents a slight decrease compared to 2017, when 17.9 per cent were successful).

Chart: personnel composition according to the type of civil service

4.2 Spending and material and technical provisioning

Spending

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In 2018, the expenditure limit of €52,997,882 (an €4,000,000 of this sum was capital expenses) and a binding income indicator of €130,000 were allotted to the Slovak Information Service by the State Budget Act No. 333/2017 Coll.

In 2018, the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic implemented three budgetary measures adjusting the service’s expenditure limit.

Table: Binding indicators in the budget of SIS

Material and technical provisioning

The capital expenses were used mainly for upgrading the information and communication system, intelligence and monitoring technologies for crypto equipment, upgrading telecommunication technology and replenishment of the obsolete fleet necessary for special intelligence duties. The capital expenses allotted in 2018 were used for the modernization and improvement of the security and functionalities of the information and communication system and for securing the effective fulfillment of service’s task in the field of protecting classified information.

The operating expenses were used mostly on intelligence activities, for covering obligatory and contractual payments and for servicing the outdated equipment and buildings. The other expenses were used strictly for maintaining the service’s day-to-day operation, keeping its information and communication technologies working and for eliminating their serious disrepair.

The SIS fulfilled the binding indicators for the 2018 budget determined by the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic and appropriations were used for the purposes stipulated by law and in accordance with economic, effective and efficient spending of the public funds.

4.3 Information-technical means (ITM)

Legal framework for ITM use

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The Slovak Information Service is authorized to use intelligence-technical means when carrying out duties according to Section 10(1)(b) of the Slovak Information Service Act No. 46/1993 Coll. and Section 2(2) of the Act on Protection of Privacy against the Illicit Use of Intelligence-Technical Means No. 166/2003 Coll. It is possible to use ITM to invade the privacy of natural persons without their prior agreement, but only under the conditions defined by law.

This measure requires a prior written judicial approval. ITM can be used only for the time necessary, not longer than six months. This period begins on the day the judge gives his approval. If necessary, several types of ITM can be used at the same time or sequentially, but each can be used only within the limits expressly stated within the judge’s approval. If an ITM is to be used at places inaccessible to public, the judge will specify whether the approval also applies to entering these places.

ITM use

The ITM use at the Slovak Information Service is fully compliant with the provisions of the Slovak Information Service Act No. 43/1993 Coll. and the Act on the Protection of Privacy against the Illicit Use of Intelligence-Technical Means No. 166/2003 Coll.

The technical solutions used and strict organizational and control measures guarantee that the legality of ITM use is respected and no interference in the service’s surveillance and data storage/archiving system is possible.

In 2018, the SIS submitted 280 requests for ITM use, eight of which were rejected by a court due to the failure to comply with the material conditions needed for the approval.

By the reporting date, 185 out of 272 cases of ITM use were evaluated in respect of reaching their statutory goal and purpose. Out of this number, 182 placements met the statutory goal and purpose, while three did not. All placements made in the first half of 2018 were evaluated. By the reporting date, 87 placements could not be evaluated, since they were either live or waiting to be evaluated within the 30-day period after the withdrawal of ITM.

Comparing the SIS statistics with those provided by the Bratislava County Court in 2018, the number of requests for ITM placement and the number of granted judicial approvals were the same.

Table: Detailed statement on the use of ITM in 2017 (as of February 20, 2019)

In 2018, each case of ITM use had a judge’s prior approval and none was illegal.

4.4 Cooperation with intelligence services from other countries

In 2018, the Slovak Information Service was developing cooperation with partner intelligence services in operational (special operations) and analytical (thematic projects) areas at bilateral and multilateral levels. The cooperation consisted of information exchange and personal contacts at expert meetings with partner services and participation in working groups.

The bilateral cooperation followed the trends of previous years and kept its growing tendency. Mutual exchange of information and outcomes related to all focal points represented an important pillar of international bilateral cooperation. Besides information exchange, we were engaged in bilateral cooperation with our foreign partners in a number of operative fields, joint exercises, projects and special operations.

We currently cooperate with 106 partner services from around the world. The key partners of international bilateral cooperation are still mainly our counterparts from NATO and EU member countries, including the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy. We have very intensive cooperation with V4 countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland). Cooperation with Balkan services is of high priority in accordance with the Strategic Focus priorities.

As to the thematic focus of bilateral intelligence cooperation, our permanent priority is to protect Slovak security, political and economic interests and the related monitoring of the development in unstable and conflict regions. Recent serious incidents, such as migration flows to Europe, civil war in Syria, military intervention against Daesh, increased number of terrorist and cyber attacks in Europe, brought the themes of illegal migration, counterterrorism, counter-extremism and cyber threats to the fore.

Currently, proliferation, illegal arms, military and dual-use items trade are the equally important issues.

In 2018, the multilateral cooperation, besides keeping the standard multilateral agenda in the form of information exchange via communication systems and managing service experts’ and leaders’ presence in multilateral meetings, focused on preparation for the presidency in the Civic Intelligence Committee (CIC) NATO in 2019. In 2019, the SIS will chair the Committee grouping security and intelligence services of the Alliance’s countries strategically and organizationally.

Active cooperation of multilateral groups continued in accordance with planned activities and the service’s strategic focus (regular HoS meetings, working groups, workshops etc.). We focused mostly on counterterrorism, counter-extremism, proliferation of dual-use items, trafficking in defense products, illegal migration, organized crime, hostile intelligence activities and situation in high-risk or conflict regions.

4.5 Legislation and inspection

Legislation

The SIS cooperated with ministries, other central bodies of the State Administration and other government bodies within the area of legislation.

In 2018, we reviewed 106 documents sent for an interdepartmental scrutiny, raising comments on 23 of them. The service’s goal was to turn the proposer’s attention to the problems arising from real-life application and to create a legal basis to perform its statutory duties in a proper and effective way. During the interdepartmental debate, substantial comments were raised and led to the appellation procedure. Some comments presented by the SIS were incorporated into the materials.

In 2018, the SIS reviewed various draft bills for the interdepartmental debate, e.g.:

- Draft law amending the Act No. 171/1993 Coll. on the Police Corps and on change and amendments of some acts;

- Draft law amending the Act No. 480/2002 Coll. on the Asylum and on change and amendments of some acts;

- National Security Authority’s draft regulation on identification criteria for operated service (the criteria for basic service)

- The Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic draft measure on list of defense-trade items;

- Draft law amending the Act No. 343/2015 Coll. on Public Procurement and on change and amendments of some acts;

- Draft law amending the Act No. 506/2009 Coll. on Trademarks and on change and amendments of some acts;

- Draft law on Access to Firearms and Ammunition for Civil Use on the Market;

- Draft law amending the Act No. 308/1993 Coll. on the Establishment of the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights and on change and amendments of Act No. 564/2001 Coll. on the Public Defender of Rights as amended;

- Draft Gambling Act and on change and amendments of some acts

- Draft law on National Nuclear Fund and on change and amendments of Act No. 541/2004 Coll. on Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy (Atomic Act) and on change and amendments of some acts;

- Draft Decree of the National Security Authority providing for the details of administrative security of classified information;

- National System of Reaction to Crisis Situation Draft;

- Draft law amending the Act No. 190/2003 Coll. on Weapons and Ammunition and on change and amendments of some acts as amended;

- Draft Strategy on Labor Mobility of Foreigners in the Slovak Republic;

- Draft law amending Act No. 305/2013 Coll. on Electronic Form of Governance Conducted by Public Authorities (Act on e-government) and on change and amendments of some acts as amended;

Inspection

Regarding administrative security, there was inspection of records of physical destruction of classified documents and administrative tools in classified documents protocols and the Administrative Tool Book took place in 2018.

As to the security of technical equipment, the inspection of photocopiers used for classified documents took place.

Regarding physical security and security of buildings, there was one inspection focused on officers’ access to the halls of protected areas in case of fire or disruption of the protected area.

The following internal inspections took place in 2018:

- 13 internal inspections, one of them is ongoing,

- 50 individual inspections focused on officers’ use of alcohol,

- Seven unscheduled internal inspections, three of them are ongoing

- Two financial inspections on the spot according to Act No. 357/2015 Coll. on Financial Control and Internal Audit on change and amendments of some acts, one of them is ongoing.

In 2018, the SIS Internal Audit department carried out five scheduled internal audits. The director’s Control Body initiated one unscheduled internal audit. The Internal Audit department found no shortcomings during the internal audit; all the audits were concluded by Internal Audit Report in 2018.

Expert state supervision

State inspectors and public health officer launched 20 scheduled supervisions, including 11 expert state supervisions in the area of security and health safety of civil servants and device security, four fire supervisions and five health supervisions. The director’s Control Body initiated one unscheduled fire inspection carried out by a fire inspector.

Thirty-two binding opinions were issued in the building approval procedures. No statements excluding equipment from use or cessation were issued.

5. Report on the Activity of the National Security and Analytical Centre

The National Security and Analytical Centre, being analytical, communication and cooperation center of the Slovak Information Service with other state bodies continued in collecting, assessing and sharing information on security threats against the Slovak Republic in accordance with the NBAC Statute. Following its five-years’ experience, the state bodies represented in the NBAC fully enjoy the advantages and positive elements of sharing information through the NBAC platform.

Following the acquired indicia and information, the NBAC paid attention to key security issues concerning the security situation in Slovakia, neighboring countries and the EU. The focus was on analysis and evaluation of information on the security threats following from the phenomenon of illegal migration, cyber threats, terrorist threats and extremism. The NBAC increasingly focused on the escalation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine after the military vessels affair in the Kerch Strait in November. Compared to the previous period, The NBAC is used more often of the screenings of Slovak Schengen visa applicants. In order to detect possible incidents early, NBAC focused its attention on monitoring the security situation in Slovakia before and during the Globsec international security conference and in connection with mass public events.

In 2018, the NBAC established bilateral cooperation with the Austrian Situation Centre, integrated into the structure of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (BVT), Danish Centre for Terror Analysis (CTA) integrated into the structure of the Danish intelligence service PET and the Czech Centre against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats, integrated into the structures of the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic. The NBAC attended reciprocal meeting with the Hungarian Counter-Terrorism Information and Criminal Analysis Centre (TIBEK). As part of multilateral cooperation, the NBAC participated in the meeting of informal group of Counterterrorist Centers’ directors and counterterrorist coordinators of the EU member states, Scandinavia, North America and Australia – the cooperation on analysis of the terrorist threats (CTTA Madrid Group) and on the international analytical workshop on terrorist threats issues organized by the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre (ITAC/Canada).

In 2018, the NBAC Council met once to discuss the security situation in Slovakia, the possible impact of tensions between Ukraine and the Russian Federation and declaration of martial law in Ukraine on Slovakia. The possible threats against the security of the Slovak Republic and its citizens during the Christmas and New Year holidays and terrorist threat level were assessed.

The NBAC actively participated in international training focused on the fight against the financing of terrorism organized by the Police Corps.

To increase the expert erudition of public employees, even outside the spectrum of officers and Centre’s employees, the NBAC continued organizing expert workshops and lectures. In order to improve its activities, the centre took some steps necessary for safeguarding the new NBAC information system. As there was a need to react actively to a constantly changing development in the security area, growing demands on the performance of the tasks of the centre and need to standardize the centre’s activity, the SIS continued seconding new staff to the centre. The process of preparation for the new NBAC premises was suspended until sufficient resources were allocated. This allocation for the renovation of the new premises is not the responsibility of SIS, the service considers the necessity of the financial allocation to be urgent.

6. Conclusion

In 2018, the Slovak Information Service continued to carry out the tasks of collecting and evaluating information for its statutory clients within its domain and powers as set forth in the Act No. 46/1993 Coll