State Security Service (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
|State Security Service|
|Služba državne bezbednosti
Služba državne sigurnosti
|Secret police overview|
|Formed||13 March 1946|
|Superseding agency||State Security Service (FR Yugoslavia)|
The State Security Service[Note 1] (SDB or SDS), more commonly known by its original name as the State Security Administration[Note 2] (UDBA or UDSA), was the secret police of Yugoslavia. Best known at all times simply by the acronym UDBA,[Note 3] in its latter decades it was composed of six semi-independent secret police organizations - one for each of the six Yugoslav federal republics - coordinated by the central federal office.
Although it operated with more restraint than other secret police agencies in the communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe, the UDBA was nonetheless a feared tool of control. It is alleged that the UDBA was responsible for the "eliminations" of dozens of enemies of the state within Yugoslavia and internationally (estimates about 200 assassinations and kidnappings). Eliminations vary from those of World War II Ustaše (fascist) leaders Ante Pavelić and Vjekoslav Luburić (in Spain and Argentina), to Croatian emigrant Bruno Bušić.
UDBA formed a major part of the Yugoslav intelligence services from 1946-1991, and was primarily responsible for internal state security. After 1946 the UDB underwent numerous security and intelligence changes due to topical issues at that time, including: fighting gangs; protection of the economy; Cominform/Informbiro; and bureaucratic aspirations. In 1945 and 1946, for instance, the UDB was organized into districts. In 1950, when the administrative-territorial units were abolished as authorities, the UDB was reorganized again. During this period the intelligence and security activities concentrated less on intelligence and more on internal security. There was an emphasis on collectivism, brotherhood, social harmony, loyalty, and tolerance towards those with different views. Deviation from this set of values became an immediate issue for security services.
Later, the use of force was mitigated and when the process of "decentralization of people's power" began, intelligence and security services underwent further reorganization in order to decentralise power and increase effectiveness. The Act on Internal Affairs and the Decree on Organization of State Internal Affairs Secretariat regulated the intelligence security authority as the prerogative of the State Security Directorate within the Ministry of the Interior. The following reorganization addressed issues relating to the competence of the federation (state security, cross-border traffic, foreign citizens, passports, introduction and dissemination of foreign press, and federal citizenship).
Intelligence and security activity was organized in the following manner:
- After OZNA (Одељење заштите народа / Odeljenje zaštite naroda) (En:Department of National Security) was abolished, intelligence activity was divided among various federal ministries: the Federal Ministry of the Interior by the State Security Administration, and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Service of Investigation and Documentation (SID) which collected foreign political information; military-defense intelligence was handled by the GS 2nd Department - KOS (Kontraobaveštajna služba / Counterintelligence Service) of Yugoslav People's Army.
- SDB in the republics was not autonomous, but was tied to the federal service which co-ordinated the work and issued instructions.
- State security was regulated by secret legislation (secret Official Gazette), which prescribed the use of special operations. The SDB performed house searches, covert interceptions inside the premises, telecommunications interception, covert surveillance of people, and covert interception of letters and other consignments.
- Of primary interest to the SDB was domestic security; identifying and obstructing activities of the "domestic enemy" (i.e. the "bourgeois rightwing", clericalists, members of the Cominform, nationalists, and separatists). Intelligence work abroad was deemed less important and was under federal control.
- The SDB was a "political police", answerable to the party organization from which it received its guidelines and to which it reported. The SDB was so deeply rooted in the political system that one of its tasks was the preparation of "Political Security Assessments"; that is, assessments on literally all spheres of life.
- During its activity, the SDB enjoyed a wide range of power, including classical police powers (identifications, interrogations, and arrests).
- The SDB organization was constantly changing and making improvements, but it remained tied to the central unit in republic capitals and smaller working groups in the field. All information and data flowed into the central unit in the capitals and sent on from there to the users. Field groups had working contacts with the local authorities, but did not answer to them.
From 1963 - 1974, security intelligence services dealt with a series of domestic and foreign political events. At home, there were political confrontation both before and after the Brioni Plenum (1966), liberal flareups and massive leftist Students' demonstrations in Belgrade in 1968, Hrvatsko proljeće (Croatian Spring) or "MASPOK" (mass movement) in Croatia in 1971, an incursion of a group of nationalists (Raduša, 1972), and a revival of nationalism in Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, and Slovenia. The most significant event abroad was the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia in 1968.
These were the circumstances at the time the first act on internal affairs of the individual republics was adopted in 1967. According to this act, internal affairs were handled directly by the municipal administrative bodies and the secretariats of internal affairs of each republic or by their provincial bodies. This was the first time since 1945 that republics gained control and greater influence over their individual security organs and intelligence security services.
The State Security Service (SDB) was defined by law as a professional service within the Republic Secretariat of Internal Affairs (RSUP). Naturally, most of its competence remained within federal institutions, as prescribed by the Act on Handling Internal Affairs Under Competence of Federal Administrative Bodies (1971), which determined that the federal secretariat of internal affairs coordinate the work of the SDB in the republics and provinces. Further steps were taken with the transformation of state administration, adoption of the Federal Act on State Administration (1978), and the Republic Act (1978). The newly adopted act on internal affairs tasked the Republic Secretariat of Internal Affairs (RSUP) with state security issues, which then became RSUP issues and were no longer given special handling "at the RSUP". This resolution remained in force until the 1991 modifications of the act on internal affairs.
The role of intelligence and security changed after 1986, when a different mentality reigned within the Party and the processes of democratization were initiated. Intelligence security agencies came under attack, and many people started publicly writing about and criticizing the SDB. There were no more taboo subjects. The party organization was abolished in the SDB and the first attempts to introduce parliamentary control began.
The appointment of a commission to monitor the work was one of the most absurd decisions made by the country's intelligence security services during the era of "social democracy", since SDB activity was regulated by federal legislation and regulations published in the secret Official Gazettes. Neither the commission members nor its president had access to these Acts. It was difficult to evaluate information, since the commission had no investigative powers or capability to verify information. The head of the service was tasked simply to deliver requested information, even classified, to the commission. The SDB was also still receiving tasks from the Party, although the supervising commission lacked the powers to control those tasks. The above-mentioned events undermined the unity of the SDB, which formulated its own, unpublished regulations (sub-legal acts, ordinances, etc.). This made any protest about violation of rights impossible, as the regulations were inaccessible to the public.
The first democratic multi party elections in 1990, which enhanced the process of democratization, reverberated within the Federal Secretariat of Internal Affairs (SSUP) and Federal State Security Service (SSDB), which were fighting to maintain control over the individual SDBs in the republics. The latter became increasingly disunited; it was still legally connected to the federal bodies, but was becoming aware of the fact that it operated and worked in their particular republic. Some professional cadres, especially those in the "domestic field" (dealing with the "bourgeois right wing", clericalists, and student movements), began leaving the service. Conflict was increasing, and SDB archives were being systematically destroyed. In its search for new roles, the SDBs also began to limit information they were sending to the SSDB. It ultimately restricted its information to foreign intelligence services.
Along with the weakening positions of the SSDB position was becoming weaker and attempts by the Yugoslav People's Army Security Service or KOS to strengthen its position in the republics and in the individual SDBs were becoming more numerous. The attempts failed because they depended upon cadres of other nationalities still employed at the SDBs but who had no access to data bases and had no decision-making power due to their "Yugoslav" orientation.
Recently released files show over 1 million people of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia and other Yugoslav republics, whose files the UDBA in Slovenia kept records. In 2003 and 2010, it was to possible to see the names of the UDBA agents in Slovenia, some of whom are still active in the Slovenian Military and the Ministry of Interior, at the website udba.net. The government of Slovenia promptly demanded the removal of pages from the website, so they are currently not accessible.
- Serbo-Croatian: 'Služba državne bezbednosti or Služba državne sigurnosti, Служба државне безбедности; Macedonian: Служба за државна безбедност; Slovene: Služba državne varnosti
- Serbo-Croatian: 'Uprava državne bezbednosti or Uprava državne sigurnosti, Управа државне безбедности; Macedonian: Управа за државна безбедност; Slovene: Uprava državne varnosti
- The acronym "UDBA" is derived from the organization's original name in the Serbian variant of the Serbo-Croatian language: "Uprava državne bezbednosti" ("State Security Administration"); the additional "A" for "armije" signified its being part the Yugoslav Army.
- Schindler, John (February 4, 2010), Doctor of Espionage: The Victims of UDBA, Sarajevo: Slobodna Bosna, p. 35-38
- see the Act on abolishing of authority, LRS Off. Gazette no. 4/51
- FNRJ Off. Gaz. No. 30/56
- Srbija i Crna Gora - Novine Toronto
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