After having discussed the Admiralty Code and its use in NATO military and intelligence agencies in part 1 and similar information evaluation systems in (European) Law Enforcement in part 2 of this series, I have been searching for different systems.
That search has not yet been overly successful, although that could be due to my lack of language skills as I may have missed publications in Mandarin, Arabic and a dozen or more languages. I did however find an information evaluation methodology as described by a number of Russian authors which shows similar characteristics as the Admiralty Code although its’ approach is slightly different. In this short blog post I will discuss that system as well as my reservations.
The Russian System
I have identified a number of Russian authors (Glazunov 2006, Kyznetsov 2001, Melnikov 2011, Rem 2021, Ronin 1997) who describe an information evaluation system and who hint that it is being used by Russian Intelligence Agencies. The system is somewhat similar to the Admiralty Code in the sense that source and information are evaluated separately. However, a three-digit ‘markirovka‘ is used consisting of capital letters (A to Д), a number (1 to 3) and a a third (preceding) digit a Roman number (I to VI).
First the reliability of the source is coded in capital letters:
- А – absolutely reliable and competent;
- Б – usually reliable;
- В – not very reliable;
- Г – unreliable;
- Д – undefined.
Subsequently a numerical is added, though not to indicate the credibility of the information, though to express the distance between the source and the origin of the information:
- 1 – observed by the source;
- 2 – source heard it from someone who can be trusted;
- 3 – rumours (third hand).
While the ‘distance to the source’ is different from the Admiralty Code, we have seen that metric being used in Law Enforcement information grading systems and in essence it does make sense to look at the distance involved when information seems to us (who does not remember the children’s game of ‘Chinese whispers’) .
Lastly because , as the authors note: “an absolutely reliable and competent source could still convey disinformation and usually unreliable source can still report valuable information“, the two-digit index is supplemented with a Roman numeral indicating the credibility of the information:
- I – confirmed by other information;
- II – probably true (3 to 1);
- III – possibly true (50/50)
- IV – doubtful (3 to 1)
- V – implausible
- VI – undefined
Interesting to see that a chance is attributed to the credibility of the information quite similar to CIA Sherman Kent’s words of estimative probability.
A grading that would look like II-Б1 would relate to information from a usually reliable source who observed the information first hand and with a 3 to1 chance the information is true. All in all the same elements that we have seen in the previous discussed systems. So in essence nothing completely new although the order and combination of the three elements is interesting.
In total I have identified five authors who all describe the system in the same way. Actually, they describe it in exactly the same way, in the exact same words. All also use exactly the same example of ‘Маркировка III-Б2‘ to explain the system (although in one of the publications there is a mistake in the text). The oldest source (‘Своя разведка’ by R. Ronin) was published in 1997 and the newest (‘Защита вашего бизнеса и вас’ by V. Rem) was published recently in 2021.
This is troublesome because none of the authors provide any reference as to the origin of the system. It is possible that all others plagiarised the text from Ronin who in 1997 described this methodology first (as I can see now). Or they are all quoting some internal Russian Intelligence Analysis guidelines, however I have not found any confirmation in archival material yet.
So for now I remain sceptical and will devote some time to research original archive material that may confirm or reject the actual use of this system by Russian Intelligence. And of course I’ll keep looking for other systems. If you have any suggestions, I’m looking forward to hear from you.
For those interested the publications in which I found the described system, these are:
- Глазунов О.Н.(2006) Государственный переворот. Стратегия и технологии. Москва: ОЛМА-ПРЕСС Образование.
- Кузнецов И. Н. (2001) Информация: сбор, защита, анализ. Учебник по информационно-аналитической работе. — Москва: ООО Изд. Яуза.
- Мельников И.В. (2011) Коммерческая разведка
- Рем В. (2021) Защита вашего бизнеса и вас. Рождённый в СССР
- Ронин Р. (1997) Своя разведка. Минск: Харвест
In a next post I will return to the Admiralty Code and discuss the criticism that the system has received over the past years.