Defenders of the besieged fortress
The history of the special services and the ideas which organise them in the symbolic sphere are an important part of the reflection on their contemporary role and position. Over the centuries, the secret services defined Russia's relations with the outside world, shaped its domestic situation, and influenced the fate of the societies and nations that were part of the Russian and Soviet empires. Many generations of their subjects and citizens have been raised in the cult of state security: in this way, the services' negative image (as a powerful machine of repression) was washed away in the public awareness, and their successes and contributions in the fields of modernising and building the power of the country were emphasised. This served, and still serves, to legitimise them, and also to legitimise the ruling elite in Russia.