From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Committee for State Security
Комитет государственной безопасности
Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti
Emblema KGB.svg
Agency overview
Formed13 March 1954; 67 years ago (1954-03-13)
Preceding agencies
  • Cheka (1917–1922)
  • GPU (1922–1923)
  • OGPU (1923–1934)
  • NKVD (1934–1946)
  • NKGB (February–July 1941/1943–1946)
  • MGB (1946–1953)
Dissolved3 December 1991; 29 years ago (1991-12-03)
Superseding agencies
  • Inter-Republican Security Service (MSB) (1991)
  • Central Intelligence Service (TsSR) (1991)
  • Committee for the Protection of the State Border (KOGG) (1991)
TypeState committee of union-republican jurisdiction
JurisdictionCentral Committee
& Council of Ministers
Supreme Council
& President
Headquarters2 Bolshaya Lubyanka Street
Moscow, Russian SFSR
MottoLoyalty to the party – Loyalty to the motherland
Верность партии — Верность Родине
Agency executives
Child agencies
  • Foreign intelligence:
    First Chief Directorate
  • Internal security:
    Second Chief Directorate
  • Ciphering:
    Eighth Chief Directorate
    Chief Directorate of Border Forces

The KGB (Russian: Комитет государственной безопасности (КГБ), tr. Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, IPA: [kəmʲɪˈtʲet ɡəsʊˈdarstvʲɪn(ː)əj bʲɪzɐˈpasnəsʲtʲɪ] (About this soundlisten)), translated in English as the Committee for State Security, was the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 13 March 1954 until 3 December 1991. As a direct successor of preceding agencies such as the Cheka, GPU, OGPU, NKGB, NKVD and MGB, it was attached to the Council of Ministers. It was the chief government agency of "union-republican jurisdiction", carrying out internal security, intelligence and secret police functions. Similar agencies operated in each of the republics of the Soviet Union aside from the Russian SFSR, with many associated ministries, state committees and state commissions.

The agency was a military service governed by army laws and regulations, in the same fashion as the Soviet Army or the MVD Internal Troops. While most of the KGB archives remain classified, two online documentary sources are available.[1][2] Its main functions were foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, operative-investigative activities, guarding the state border of the USSR, guarding the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Soviet Government, organization and security of government communications as well as combating nationalist, dissident, religious and anti-Soviet activities.

On 3 December 1991, the KGB was officially dissolved.[3] It was later succeeded in Russia by the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and what would later become the Federal Security Service (FSB). Following the 1991–1992 South Ossetia War, the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia established its own KGB, keeping the unreformed name.[4] In addition, Belarus established its own national security agency in 1991, the State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus, keeping the unreformed name.


KGB Regulation seen in the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights in Vilnius

Restructuring in the MVD following the fall of Beria in June 1953 resulted in the formation of the KGB under Ivan Serov in March 1954.

Secretary Leonid Brezhnev overthrew Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1964. Brezhnev (in power: 1964-1982) was concerned about ambitious spy-chiefs - the communist party had managed Serov's successor, the ambitious KGB Chairman, Aleksandr Shelepin (in office: 1958–1961), but Shelepin carried out Brezhnev's palace coup d'état against Khrushchev in 1964 (despite Shelepin not then being in the KGB). Brezhnev sacked Shelepin's successor and protégé, Vladimir Semichastny (in office: 1961–1967) as KGB Chairman and re-assigned him to a sinecure in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Shelepin found himself demoted from chairman of the Committee of Party and State Control in 1965 to Trade Union Council chairman (in office 1967-1975).

The first public rally near the KGB building in Moscow on Lubyanka Square in a memory of Stalin's victims on the Day of Political Prisoners, 30 October 1989

In the 1980s, Soviet Union glasnost provoked KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov (in office: 1988–1991) to lead the August 1991 Soviet coup d'état in an attempt to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev. The failed coup d'état and the collapse of the USSR heralded the end of the KGB on 3 December 1991. The KGB's main successors are the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) and the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) .

In the US[edit]

Between the World Wars[edit]

The GRU (military intelligence) recruited the ideological agent Julian Wadleigh, who became a State Department diplomat in 1936. The NKVD's first US operation was establishing the legal residency of Boris Bazarov and the illegal residency of Iskhak Akhmerov in 1934.[5] Throughout, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and its General Secretary Earl Browder, helped NKVD recruit Americans, working in government, business, and industry.[citation needed]

Other important, low-level and high-level ideological agents were the diplomats Laurence Duggan and Michael Whitney Straight in the State Department, the statistician Harry Dexter White in the Treasury Department, the economist Lauchlin Currie (an FDR advisor), and the "Silvermaster Group", headed by statistician Greg Silvermaster, in the Farm Security Administration and the Board of Economic Warfare.[6] Moreover, when Whittaker Chambers, formerly Alger Hiss's courier, approached the Roosevelt Government—to identify the Soviet spies Duggan, White, and others—he was ignored. Hence, during the Second World War (1939–45)—at the Tehran (1943), Yalta (1945), and Potsdam (1945) conferences—Big Three Ally Joseph Stalin of the USSR, was better informed about the war affairs of his US and UK allies than they were about his.[7]

Soviet espionage was at its most successful in collecting scientific and technological intelligence about advances in jet propulsion, radar and encryption, which impressed Moscow, but stealing atomic secrets was the capstone of NKVD espionage against Anglo–American science and technology. To wit, British Manhattan Project team physicist Klaus Fuchs (GRU 1941) was the main agent of the Rosenberg spy ring.[8] In 1944, the New York City residency infiltrated top secret Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico by recruiting Theodore Hall, a 19-year-old Harvard physicist.[9][10]

During the Cold War[edit]

The KGB failed to rebuild most of its US illegal resident networks. The aftermath of the Second Red Scare (1947–57) and the crisis in the CPUSA hampered recruitment. The last major illegal resident, Rudolf Abel (Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher/"Willie" Vilyam Fishers), was betrayed by his assistant, Reino Häyhänen, in 1957.[11]

Chronology of Soviet
security agencies
GPU 5th anniversary emblem.png GPU 15th anniversary emblem.png NKVD Emblem (Gradient).svg Emblema KGB.svg
1917–22 Cheka under SNK of the RSFSR
(All-Russian Extraordinary Commission)
1922–23 GPU under NKVD of the RSFSR
(State Political Directorate)
1923–34 OGPU under SNK of the USSR
(Joint State Political Directorate)
1934–46 NKVD of the USSR
(People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs)
1934–41 GUGB of the NKVD of the USSR
(Main Directorate of State Security of
People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs)
1941 NKGB of the USSR
(People's Commissariat of State Security)
1934–46 NKVD of the USSR
(People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs)
1943–46 NKGB of the USSR
(People's Commissariat for State Security)
1946–53 MGB of the USSR
(Ministry of State Security)

KI MID of the USSR
(Committee of Information under Ministry
of Foreign Affairs)

1946–54 MVD of the USSR
(Ministry of Internal Affairs)
1954–78 KGB under SM of the USSR
(Committee for State Security)
1978–91 KGB of the USSR
(Committee for State Security)
1991 MSB of the USSR
(Interrepublican Security Service)
1991 TsSB of the USSR
(Central Intelligence Service)
1991 KOGG of the USSR
(Committee for the Protection of
the State Border)

Recruitment then emphasised mercenary agents, an approach especially successful[citation needed][quantify] in scientific and technical espionage, since private industry practised lax internal security, unlike the US Government. One notable KGB success occurred in 1967, with the walk-in recruitment of US Navy Chief Warrant Officer John Anthony Walker. Over eighteen years, Walker enabled Soviet Intelligence to decipher some one million US Navy messages, and track the US Navy.[12]

In the late Cold War, the KGB was successful with intelligence coups in the cases of the mercenary walk-in recruits FBI counterspy Robert Hanssen (1979–2001) and CIA Soviet Division officer Aldrich Ames (1985–1994).[13]

In the Soviet Bloc[edit]

It was Cold War policy for the KGB of the Soviet Union and the secret services of the satellite states to extensively monitor public and private opinion, internal subversion and possible revolutionary plots in the Soviet Bloc. In supporting those Communist governments, the KGB was instrumental in crushing the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the Prague Spring of "Socialism with a Human Face" in Czechoslovakia, 1968.[14][15]

During the Hungarian revolt, KGB chairman Ivan Serov personally supervised the post-invasion "normalization" of the country.[16] Consequently, the KGB monitored the satellite state populations for occurrences of "harmful attitudes" and "hostile acts"; yet, stopping the Prague Spring, deposing a nationalist Communist government, was its greatest achievement.[citation needed]

The KGB prepared the Red Army's route by infiltrating Czechoslovakia with many illegal residents disguised as Western tourists. They were to gain the trust of and spy upon the most outspoken proponents of Alexander Dubček's new government. They were to plant subversive evidence, justifying the USSR's invasion, that right-wing groups—aided by Western intelligence agencies—were going to depose the Communist government of Czechoslovakia. Finally, the KGB prepared hardline, pro-USSR members of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPC), such as Alois Indra and Vasiľ Škultéty, to assume power after the Red Army's invasion.[17]

The KGB's Czech success in the 1960s was matched with the failed suppression of the Solidarity labour movement in 1980s Poland. The KGB had forecast political instability consequent to the election of Archbishop of Kraków Karol Wojtyla as the first Polish Pope, John Paul II, whom they had categorised as "subversive" because of his anti-Communist sermons against the one-party régime of the Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP). Despite its accurate forecast of crisis, the PUWP hindered the KGB's destroying the nascent Solidarity-backed political movement, fearing explosive civil violence if they imposed the KGB-recommended martial law. Aided by their Polish counterpart, the Służba Bezpieczeństwa (SB), the KGB successfully infiltrated spies to Solidarity and the Catholic Church,[18] and in Operation X co-ordinated the declaration of martial law with Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski and the Polish Communist Party;[19] however, the vacillating, conciliatory Polish approach blunted KGB effectiveness—and Solidarity then fatally weakened the Communist Polish government in 1989.

Suppressing internal dissent[edit]

Monument to victims of KGB / NKVD operations in Vilnius, Lithuania

During the Cold War, the KGB actively sought to combat "ideological subversion" – anti-communist political and religious ideas and the dissidents who promoted them – which was generally dealt with as a matter of national security in discouraging influence of hostile foreign powers. After denouncing Stalinism in his secret speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences in 1956, head of state Nikita Khrushchev lessened suppression of "ideological subversion". As a result, critical literature re-emerged, including the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who was code-named PAUK ("spider") by the KGB. After Khrushchev's deposition in 1964, Leonid Brezhnev reverted the State and KGB to actively harsh suppression; house searches to seize documents and the continual monitoring of dissidents became routine again. To wit, in 1965, such a search-and-seizure operation yielded Solzhenitsyn manuscripts of "slanderous fabrications", and the subversion trial of the novelists Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel; Sinyavsky (alias "Abram Tertz"), and Daniel (alias "Nikolai Arzhak"), were captured after a Moscow literary-world informant told KGB when to find them at home.[20]

In 1967, the campaign of this suppression increased under new KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov. After suppressing the Prague Spring, KGB Chairman Andropov established the Fifth Directorate to monitor dissension and eliminate dissenters. He was especially concerned with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov, "Public Enemy Number One".[21] Andropov failed to expel Solzhenitsyn before 1974; but did internally exile Sakharov to Gorky in 1980. The KGB failed to prevent Sakharov's collecting his Nobel Peace Prize in 1975, but did prevent Yuri Orlov collecting his Nobel Prize in 1978; Chairman Andropov supervised both operations.

KGB dissident-group infiltration featured agents provocateurs pretending "sympathy to the cause", smear campaigns against prominent dissidents, and show trials; once imprisoned, the dissident endured KGB interrogators and sympathetic informant cell-mates. In the event, Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost policies lessened persecution of dissidents; he was effecting some of the policy changes they had been demanding since the 1970s.[22]

Notable operations[edit]

According to declassified documents, the KGB aggressively recruited former German (mostly Abwehr) intelligence officers after the war.[23] The KGB used them to penetrate the West German intelligence service.[23]

In the 1960s, acting upon the information of KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, the CIA counter-intelligence chief James Jesus Angleton believed KGB had moles in two key places—the counter-intelligence section of CIA and the FBI's counter-intelligence department—through whom they would know of, and control, US counter-espionage to protect the moles and hamper the detection and capture of other Communist spies. Moreover, KGB counter-intelligence vetted foreign intelligence sources, so that the moles might "officially" approve an anti-CIA double agent as trustworthy. In retrospect, the captures of the moles Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen proved that Angleton, though ignored as over-aggressive, was correct, despite the fact that it cost him his job at CIA, which he left in 1975.[citation needed]

In the mid-1970s, the KGB tried to secretly buy three banks in northern California to gain access to high-technology secrets. Their efforts were thwarted by the CIA. The banks were Peninsula National Bank in Burlingame, the First National Bank of Fresno, and the Tahoe National Bank in South Lake Tahoe. These banks had made numerous loans to advanced technology companies and had many of their officers and directors as clients. The KGB used the Moscow Narodny Bank Limited to finance the acquisition, and an intermediary, Singaporean businessman Amos Dawe, as the frontman.[24]


On 2 February 1973, the Politburo, which was led by Yuri Andropov at the time, demanded that KGB members influence Bangladesh (which was then newly formed) where Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was scheduled to win parliamentary elections. During that time, the Soviet secret service tried very hard to ensure support for his party and his allies and even predicted an easy victory for him. In June 1975, Mujib formed a new party called BAKSAL and created a one-party state. Three years later, the KGB in that region increased from 90 to 200, and by 1979 printed more than 100 newspaper articles. In these articles, the KGB officials accused Ziaur Rahman, popularly known as "Zia", and his regime of having ties with the United States.[25]

In August 1979, the KGB accused some officers who were arrested in Dhaka in an overthrow attempt, and by October, Andropov approved the fabrication of a letter in which he stated that Muhammad Ghulam Tawab, an Air Vice-Marshal at the time, was the main plotter, which led the Bangladesh, Indian and Sri Lankan press to believe that he was an American spy. Under Andropov's command, Service A, a KGB division, falsified the information in a letter to Moudud Ahmed in which it said that he was supported by the American government and by 1981 even sent a letter accusing the Reagan administration of plotting to overthrow President Zia and his regime. The letter also mentioned that after Mujib was assassinated the United States contacted Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad to replace him as a short-term President. When the election happened in the end of 1979, the KGB made sure that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party would win. The party received 207 out of 300 seats, but the Zia regime did not last long, falling on 29 May 1981 when after numerous escapes, Zia was assassinated in Chittagong.[25][better source needed]


KGB special operative Igor Morozov sits on top of the BTR-60 armoured vehicle during his assignment to the Badakhshan province, c. 1982

The KGB started infiltrating Afghanistan as early as 27 April 1978. During that time, the Afghan Communist Party[26] was planning the overthrow of the imperially appointed Prime Minister Mohammed Daoud Khan. Under the leadership of Major General Sayed Mohammad Gulabzoy and Muhammad Rafi – code named Mammad and Niruz respectively – the Soviet secret service learned of the imminent uprising. Two days after the uprising, Nur Muhammad Taraki, leader of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, issued a notice of concern to the Soviet ambassador Alexander Puzanov and the resident of Kabul-based KGB embassy Viliov Osadchy that they could have staged a coup three days earlier hence the warning. On that, both Puzanov and Osadchy dismissed Taraki's complaint and reported it to Moscow, which broke a 30-year contract with him soon after.[25][27]

The centre then realized that it was better for them to deal with a more competent agent, which at the time was Babrak Karmal, who later accused Nur Muhammad Taraki of taking bribes and even of having secretly contacted the United States embassy in Kabul. On that, the centre again refused to listen and instructed him to take a position in the Kabul residency by 1974. On 30 April 1978, Taraki, despite being cut off from any support, led the coup which later became known as Saur Revolution, and became the country's leader, with Hafizullah Amin as Vice-Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. On 5 December 1978, Taraki compared the April revolt to the Russian Revolution, which struck[clarification needed] Vladimir Kryuchkov, the FCD chief of that time.[25][27]

On 27 March 1979, after losing the city of Herat, Amin became the next Prime Minister, and by 27 July became Minister of Defence as well. The centre though was concerned of his powers since the same month he issued them a complaint about lack of funds and demanded US$400,000,000. Furthermore, it was discovered that Amin had a master's degree from Columbia University, and that he preferred to communicate in English instead of Russian. Unfortunately for Moscow's intelligence services, Amin succeeded Taraki and by 16 September Radio Kabul announced that the PDPA received a fake request from Taraki concerning health issues among the party members. On that, the centre accused him of "terrorist" activities and expelled him from the Communist Party.[25][27]

The following day General Boris Ivanov, who was behind the mission in Kabul along with General Lev Gorelov and Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Pavlovsky, visited Amin to congratulate him on his election to power. On the same day the KGB decided to imprison Sayed Gulabzoy as well as Muhammad Watanjar and Asadullah Sarwari but while in captivity and under an investigation all three denied the allegation that the current Minister of Defence was an American secret agent. The denial of claims was passed on to Yuri Andropov and Leonid Brezhnev, who as the main chiefs of the KGB proposed operation Raduga to save the life of Gulabzoy and Watanjar and send them to Tashkent from Bagram airbase by giving them fake passports. With that and a sealed container in which an almost breathless Sarwari was laying, they came to Tashkent on 19 September.[25][27]

During the continued investigation in Tashkent, the three were put under surveillance in one of the rooms for as long as four weeks where they were investigated for the reliability of their claims by the KGB. Soon after, they were satisfied with the results and sent them to Bulgaria for a secret retreat. On 9 October, the Soviet secret service had a meeting in which Bogdanov, Gorelov, Pavlonsky and Puzanov were the main chiefs who were discussing what to do with Amin who was very harsh at the meeting. After the two-hour meeting they began to worry that Amin will establish an Islamic Republic in Afghanistan and decided to seek a way to put Karmal back in. They brought him and three other ministers secretly to Moscow during which time they discussed how to put him back in power. The decision was to fly him back to Bagram airbase by 13 December. Four days later, Amin's nephew, Asadullah, was taken to Moscow by the KGB for acute food poisoning treatment.[25][27]

On 19 November 1979, the KGB had a meeting on which they discussed Operation Cascade, which was launched earlier that year. The operation carried out bombings with the help of GRU and FCD.[27] On 27 December, the centre received news that KGB Special Forces Alpha and Zenith Group, supported by the 154th OSN GRU, also known as Muslim battalion and paratroopers from the 345th Guards Airborne Regiment stormed the Tajbeg Palace in Afghanistan and killed Afghan leader Hafizullah Amin and his 100–150 personal guards.[28] His 11-year-old son died due to shrapnel wounds.[29] The Soviets installed Babrak Karmal as Amin's successor. Several other government buildings were seized during the operation, including the Ministry of Interior building, the Internal Security (KHAD) building, and the General Staff building (Darul Aman Palace). Out of the 54 KGB operators that assaulted the palace, 5 were killed in action, including Colonel Grigori Boyarinov, and 32 were wounded. Alpha Group veterans call this operation one of the most successful in the group's history. In June 1981, there were 370 members in the Afghan-controlled KGB intelligence service throughout the nation which were under the command of Ahmad Shah Paiya and had received all the training they need in the Soviet Union. By May 1982 the Ministry of Internal Affairs was set up in Afghanistan under the command of KHAD. In 1983 Boris Voskoboynikov became the next head of the KGB while Leonid Kostromin became his Deputy Minister.[27]

August 1991 coup[edit]

On 18 August 1991, Chairman of the KGB Vladimir Kryuchkov, along with seven other Soviet leaders, formed the State Committee on the State of Emergency and attempted to overthrow the government of the Soviet Union. The purpose of the attempted coup d'état was to preserve the integrity of the Soviet Union and the constitutional order. President Mikhail Gorbachev was arrested and ineffective attempts were made to seize power. Within two days, the attempted coup collapsed.[30]

The KGB was succeeded by the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) of Russia, which was succeeded by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).[31]


The Committee for State Security was a militarized organization adhering to military discipline and regulations. Its operational personnel held army style ranks, except for the maritime branch of the Border troops, which held navy style ranks. The KGB consisted of two main components - organs and troops. The organs included the services directly involved in the committee's main roles - intelligence, counter-intelligence, military counter-intelligence etc. The troops included military units within the KGB's structure, completely separate from the Soviet armed forces - the Border Troops, the Governmental Signals Troops (which in addition to providing communications between the central government and the lower administrative levels, also provided the communications between the General Staff and the military districts), the Special Service Troops (which provided EW, ELINT, SIGINT and cryptography) as well as the Spetsnaz of the KGB (the Kremlin Regiment, Alpha Group, Vympel, etc.). At the time of the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 the KGB had the following structure:[32]

  • Secretariat (office of the Chairman of the KGB) (Секретариат)
  • Group of Consultants to the Chairman of the KGB (Группа консультантов при Председателе КГБ)
  • Center for Public Relations (Центр общественных связей)
  • 1st Main Directorate (External Intelligence) (1-е Главное управление (внешняя разведка))
  • 2nd Main Directorate (Counter-Intelligence) (2-е Главное управление (контрразведка))
  • 3rd Main Directorate (Military Counter-Intelligence) (3-е Главное управление (военная контрразведка))
  • 4th Directorate (Counter-Intelligence Support for the transport and communications infrastructure) (4-е Управление (контрразведывательное обеспечение объектов транспорта и связи))
  • 5th Directorate (Political police)
  • 6th Directorate (Counter-Intelligence Support for the economy) (6-е Управление (контрразведывательное обеспечение экономики))
  • 7th Directorate (Covert Surveillance) (7-е Управление (наружное наблюдение))
  • 8th Main Directorate (Cryptography) (8-е Главное управление (шифровальное))
  • 9th Directorate (Protection of High level party members)
  • 10th Department (Inventory and Archive) (10-й отдел (учётно-архивный))
  • 12th Department (Wiretapping and surveillance in enclosed spaces) (12-й отдел (прослушивание телефонов и помещений))
  • 15th Main Directorate (Wartime government command centers) (15-е Главное управление (обслуживание запасных пунктов управления))
  • 16th Directorate (ELINT) (16-е Управление (электронная разведка))
  • Close Protection Service (Close protection, perimeter protection, transport and catering for high-ranking government officials) (Служба охраны)
  • Directorate "Z" (Protection of the constitutional order) (Управление «З» (защита конституционного строя))
  • Directorate "OP" (Combat against the organized crime) (Управление «ОП» (борьба с организованной преступностью)
  • Directorate "SCh" (Spetsnaz of the KGB) (Управление «СЧ» (руководство спецчастями))
  • Main Directorate of the Border Troops (Главное управление пограничных войск)
  • Analytical Directorate (Аналитическое управление)
  • Inspection Directorate (Инспекторское управление)
  • Operational Technical Directorate (R&D of special equipment and procedures) (Оперативно-техническое управление)
  • Investigative Department (Следственный отдел)
  • Directorate of Government Communications (Управление правительственной связи)
  • Personnel Directorate (Управление кадров)
  • Supply Directorate (Хозяйственное управление)
  • Military Construction Directorate (Военно-строительное управление)
  • Military Medical Directorate (Военно-медицинское управление)
  • Department of Financial Planning (Финансово-плановый отдел)
  • Mobilization Department (Мобилизационный отдел)
  • Legal Department and Arbitration (Юридический отдел с арбитражем)

Republican affiliations[edit]

Head of KGB in Lithuania Eduardas Eismuntas, January 1990
The former building of the KGB in Vilnius, Lithuania

The Soviet Union was a federal state, consisting of 15 constituent Soviet Socialist Republics, each with its own government closely resembling the central government of the USSR. The republican affiliation offices almost completely duplicated the structural organization of the main KGB.


The Chairman of the KGB, First Deputy Chairmen (1–2), Deputy Chairmen (4–6). Its policy Collegium comprised a chairman, deputy chairmen, directorate chiefs, and republican KGB chairmen.


Former KGB officer Sergei Ivanov meets with former CIA director Robert Gates, April 2007

Other units[edit]

  • KGB Personnel Department
  • Secretariat of the KGB
  • KGB Technical Support Staff
  • KGB Finance Department
  • KGB Archives
  • KGB Irregulars
  • Administration Department of the KGB, and
  • The CPSU Committee
  • KGB Spetsnaz (special operations) units such as:

Mode of operation[edit]

The ukase establishing the KGB

A Time magazine article in 1983 reported that the KGB was the world's most effective information-gathering organization.[33] It operated legal and illegal espionage residencies in target countries where a legal resident gathered intelligence while based at the Soviet embassy or consulate, and, if caught, was protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. At best, the compromised spy was either returned to the Soviet Union or was declared persona non grata and expelled by the government of the target country. The illegal resident spied, unprotected by diplomatic immunity, and worked independently of Soviet diplomatic and trade missions, (cf. the non-official cover CIA officer). In its early history, the KGB valued illegal spies more than legal spies, because illegal spies infiltrated their targets with greater ease. The KGB residency executed four types of espionage: (i) political, (ii) economic, (iii) military-strategic, and (iv) disinformation, effected with "active measures" (PR Line), counter-intelligence and security (KR Line), and scientific–technological intelligence (X Line); quotidian duties included SIGINT (RP Line) and illegal support (N Line).[34]

The KGB classified its spies as:

  • agents (a person who provides intelligence) and
  • controllers (a person who relays intelligence).

The false-identity (or legend) assumed by a USSR-born illegal spy was elaborate, using the life of either:

  • a "live double" (a participant to the fabrications) or
  • a "dead double" (whose identity is tailored to the spy).

The agent then substantiated his or her false-identity by living in a foreign country, before emigrating to the target country. For example, the KGB would send a US-bound illegal resident via the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, Canada.

Tradecraft included stealing and photographing documents, code-names, contacts, targets, and dead letter boxes, and working as a "friend of the cause" or as agents provocateurs, who would infiltrate the target group to sow dissension, influence policy, and arrange kidnappings and assassinations.[35]

List of chairmen[edit]

ID card of the Chairman of the KGB Yuri Andropov.
Chairman Dates
Ivan Aleksandrovich Serov 1954–1958
Aleksandr Nikolayevich Shelepin 1958–1961
Pyotr Ivashutin act. 1961
Vladimir Yefimovich Semichastny 1961–1967
Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov 1967–1982 (Jan.–May)
Vitali Vasilyevich Fedorchuk 1982 (May–Dec.)
Viktor Mikhailovich Chebrikov 1982–1988
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kryuchkov 1988–1991
Leonid Shebarshin act 1991
Vadim Viktorovich Bakatin 1991 (Aug.–Dec.)

Commemorative and award badges[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rubenstein, Joshua; Gribanov, Alexander (eds.). "The KGB File of Andrei Sakharov". Annals of Communism. Yale University. Archived from the original on 21 May 2007.
  2. ^ Archived 25 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine, archive of documents about the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the KGB, collected by Vladimir Bukovsky.
  3. ^ Закон СССР от 03.12.1991 N 124-Н О реорганизации органов государственной безопасности
  4. ^ Preobrazhensky, Konstantin (11 March 2009). "KGB Backyard in the Caucasus". Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  5. ^ The Sword and the Shield (1999) p. 104
  6. ^ The Sword and the Shield (1999) pp. 104–5
  7. ^ The Sword and the Shield (1999) p. 111
  8. ^ "The Strange Story of Klaus Fuchs, the Red Spy in the Manhattan Project". Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  9. ^ "The November 12, 1944 cable: Theodore Alvin Hall and Saville Sax". PBS. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  10. ^ Harold Jackson (15 November 1999). "US scientist-spy who escaped prosecution and spent 30 years in biological research at Cambridge". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Rudolph Ivanovich Abel (Hollow Nickel Case)". FBI. Archived from the original on 26 November 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  12. ^ The Sword and the Shield (1999) p. 205
  13. ^ The Sword and the Shield (1999) p. 435
  14. ^ "Foreign News: The Shadow of Ivan Serov". Time. 3 December 1956. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  15. ^ "UK-held Mitrokhin archives reveal details of KGB operation against Prague Spring". Radio Prague International. 19 July 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  16. ^ Aleksandr, Stykalin. "Reorganization of the Political Police in Hungary after the Suppression of the Revolution of 1956: In Lieu of a Foreword to the Article by M. Baráth". Historia provinciae–the journal of regional history.
  17. ^ Julius Jacobson (1972). Soviet Communism and the Socialist Vision. United States: New Politics Publishing. pp. 339–352. ISBN 978-0-87855-005-0.
  18. ^ Matthew Day (18 October 2011). "Polish secret police: how and why the Poles spied on their own people". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  19. ^ Andrew, Christopher; Mitrokhin, Vasili (2000). The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books. p. 531. ISBN 978-0-465-00312-9.
  20. ^ Thomas Crump (2014). Brezhnev and the Decline of the Soviet Union. Routledge. pp. 1971–1972. ISBN 978-0-415-69073-7.
  21. ^ The Sword and the Shield (1999) p. 325
  22. ^ The Sword and the Shield (1999) p. 561
  23. ^ a b Shane, Scott (7 June 2006), "C.I.A. Knew Where Eichmann Was Hiding, Documents Show", The New York Times
  24. ^ Tolchin, Martin (16 February 1986). "Russians sought U.S. banks to gain high-tech secrets". The New York Times.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g Andrew, Christopher M.; Mitrokhin, Vasili (2005). The World was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World. Basic Books. pp. 350–402. ISBN 978-0-465-00311-2.
  26. ^ Cordovez, Diego (1995). Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal. Oxford University Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-19-506294-6.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g Mitrokhin, Vasiliy; Westad, Odd Arne. Ostermann, Christian F. (ed.). "The KGB in Afghanistan" (PDF). Working Paper (Cold War International History Project (40). Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. OCLC 843924202. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  28. ^ McCauley, Martin (2008). Russia, America and the Cold War: 1949–1991 (Revised 2nd ed.). Harlow, UK: Pearson Education. ISBN 978-1-4058-7430-4.
  29. ^ "How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace". BBC. 27 December 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  30. ^ Victor Sebestyen (20 August 2011). "The K.G.B.'s Bathhouse Plot". International New York Times. p. SR4. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  31. ^ "KGB's Successor Gets 'Draconian' Powers". NBC News. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  32. ^ "Структура". Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  33. ^ John Kohan (14 February 1983). "Eyes of the Kremlin". Archived from the original on 1 June 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  34. ^ The Sword and the Shield (1999) p. 38
  35. ^ "Soviet Use of Assassination and Kidnapping". CIA. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  36. ^ "Ведомственные награды в КГБ".
  37. ^ "ЗНАКИ ОРГАНОВ ГОСУДАРСТВЕННОЙ БЕЗОПАСНОСТИ (ВЧК, ОГПУ, КГБ)". Коллекционер антиквариата (in Russian). Retrieved 29 December 2020.


  • Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, Gardners Books (2000) ISBN 0-14-028487-7; Basic Books (1999) ISBN 0-465-00310-9; trade (2000) ISBN 0-465-00312-5
  • Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, Basic Books (2005) ISBN 0-465-00311-7
  • John Barron, KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents, Reader's Digest Press (1974) ISBN 0-88349-009-9
  • Amy Knight, The KGB: Police and Politics in the Soviet Union, Unwin Hyman (1990) ISBN 0-04-445718-9
  • Richard C.S. Trahair and Robert Miller, Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations, Enigma Books (2009) ISBN 978-1-929631-75-9

Further reading[edit]

Knight, Amy (2003). "The KGB, Perestroika, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union". Journal of Cold War Studies. 5 (1): 67–93. doi:10.1162/152039703320996722. ISSN 1520-3972. S2CID 57567130.

  • Sheymov, Victor (1993). Tower of Secrets. Naval Institute Press. p. 420. ISBN 978-1-55750-764-8.
  • (in Russian) Бережков, Василий Иванович (2004). Руководители Ленинградского управления КГБ : 1954–1991. Санкт-Петербург: Выбор, 2004. ISBN 5-93518-035-9
  • Кротков, Юрий (1973). «КГБ в действии». Published in «Новый журнал» No.111, 1973 (in Russian)
  • Рябчиков, С. В. (2004). Размышляя вместе с Василем Быковым // Открытый міръ, No. 49, с. 2–3. (in Russian)(ФСБ РФ препятствует установлению мемориальной доски на своем здании, в котором ВЧК - НКВД совершала массовые преступления против человечности. Там была установлена "мясорубка", при помощи которой трупы сбрасывались чекистами в городскую канализацию.) Razmyshlyaya vmeste s Vasilem Bykovym
  • Рябчиков, С. В. (2008). Великий химик Д. И. Рябчиков // Вiсник Мiжнародного дослiдного центру "Людина: мова, культура, пiзнання", т. 18(3), с. 148–153. (in Russian) (об организации КГБ СССР убийства великого русского ученого)
  • Рябчиков, С. В. (2011). Заметки по истории Кубани (материалы для хрестоматии) // Вiсник Мiжнародного дослiдного центру "Людина: мова, культура, пiзнання", 2011, т. 30(3), с. 25–45. (in Russian) Zametki po istorii Kubani (materialy dlya khrestomatii)

External links[edit]