Vladimir Kryuchkov

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Vladimir Kryuchkov
Владимир Крючков
Kruchkov V A.jpg
7th Chairman of the Committee for State Security (KGB)
In office
1 October 1988 – 28 August 1991
PremierNikolai Ryzhkov
Valentin Pavlov
Preceded byViktor Chebrikov
Succeeded byVadim Bakatin
Full member of the 27th Politburo
In office
20 September 1989 – 14 July 1990
Personal details
Born(1924-02-29)29 February 1924
Tsaritsyn, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
(now Volgograd, Russia)
Died23 November 2007(2007-11-23) (aged 83)
Moscow, Russia
NationalitySoviet and Russian
Political partyCPSU (1944–1991)
Kryuchkov (center) being interviewed by journalists following the fourth convocation of the Congress of People's Deputies

Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov (Russian: Влади́мир Алекса́ндрович Крючко́в; 29 February 1924 – 23 November 2007) was a Soviet lawyer, diplomat, and head of the KGB, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

Initially working in the Soviet justice system as a prosecutor's assistant, Kryuchkov then graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the Soviet Foreign Ministry and became a diplomat. During his years in the foreign service, he met Yuri Andropov, who became his main patron. From 1974 until 1988, Kryuchkov headed the foreign intelligence branch of the KGB, the First Chief Directorate (PGU). During these years, the Directorate was involved in funding and supporting various communist, socialist and anti-colonial movements across the world, some of which came to power in their countries and established pro-Soviet governments; in addition, under Kryuchkov's leadership the Directorate had major triumphs in penetrating Western intelligence agencies, acquiring valuable scientific and technical intelligence and perfecting the techniques of disinformation and active measures.[1] At the same time, however, during Kryuchkov's tenure, the Directorate became plagued with defectors and had the major responsibility for encouraging the Soviet government to invade Afghanistan, and its ability to influence Western European communist parties diminished even further.[2]

From 1988 until 1991, Kryuchkov served as the 7th Chairman of the KGB. He was the leader of the abortive August coup and its governing committee.

Early life and career[edit]

Kryuchkov was born in February 1924 in Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad, and now Volgograd),[3] to a working-class family. His parents were strong supporters of Joseph Stalin. He joined the Communist Party in 1944 and became a full-time employee of the Communist Youth League (Komsomol). After earning a law degree, Kryuchkov embarked on a career in the Soviet justice system, working as an investigator for the prosecutor's office in his home city of Stalingrad.[4]

Diplomatic service[edit]

Kryuchkov then joined the Soviet diplomatic service, stationed in Hungary until 1959. He then worked for the Communist Party Central Committee for eight years, before joining the KGB in 1967 together with his patron Yuri Andropov. He was appointed head of the First Chief Directorate (FCD) in the summer of 1971 (upon the order of Andropov)(See Vladimir Kryuchkov, 1996) (the KGB Foreign Operations) and Deputy Chairman in 1978. In June 1978, he traveled to Afghanistan and, in July 1978, became the KGB rezident in Kabul where he took a very active part in the overthrow of its government.[5] In 1988, he was promoted to the rank of General of the Army and became KGB Chairman.[6] In 1989–1990, he was a member of the Politburo.

A political hard-liner, Kryuchkov was among the members of the Soviet intelligence community who misinterpreted the 1983 NATO exercise Able Archer 83 as a prelude to a nuclear attack. Many historians, such as Robert Cowley and John Lewis Gaddis, believe the Able Archer incident was the closest the world has come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

According to Sergei Tretyakov, Kryuchkov secretly sent US$50 billion worth of funds of the Communist Party to an unknown location in the lead up to the collapse of the Soviet Union.[7]

During the August Coup of 1991, Kryuchkov was the initiator of creation of the State Committee on the State of Emergency which arrested President Mikhail Gorbachev. After the defeat of the Committee, Kryuchkov was imprisoned for his participation. Kryuchkov was replaced as chairman of the KGB by Vadim Bakatin. Released on recognizance not to leave in January 1993.[8] Amnestied by the State Duma in 1994.


His son was the Switzerland rezident in the 1990s where very large sums were transiting during the 1990s looting of Russia but Yevgeny Primakov blocked the Duma's Ponomarev investigative commission from accessing KGB, FCD, and SVR documents.[9]


Kryuchkov died at the age of 83 on 23 November 2007.[6] His body was buried at the Troyekurovskoye Cemetery in Moscow.


  1. ^ Robert W Pringle, Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence Kryuchkov, Vladimir
  2. ^ Robert W Pringle, Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence Kryuchkov, Vladimir
  3. ^ "Soviet Union's hawkish KGB chief Kryuchkov dies at 83". Reuters. 25 November 2007.
  4. ^ Gale Encyclopedia of Russian History: Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov
  5. ^ Млечин, Леонид Михайлович (Mlechin, Leonid Mikhailovich) (2004). Служба внешней разведки [Foreign Intelligence Service] (in Russian). Moscow: Eksmo. ISBN 5 699 08094 5.
  6. ^ a b Levy, Clifford J. (26 November 2007). "Vladimir Kryuchkov, 83, Ex-Chief of K.G.B." The New York Times. p. 21.
  7. ^ Wise, David (27 January 2008). "Spy vs. Spy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
  8. ^ Ъ-Газета — Пресс-конференция по делу ГКЧП
  9. ^ Leach, James A., ed. (21 September 1999). Russian Money Laudering: United States Congressional Hearing (serial number 106-38). Diane Publishing. p. 318. Retrieved 15 December 2020.


Крючков Владимир Александрович, « Личное дело », Москва, Олимп, 1996, 872 стр.

Government offices
Preceded by
Viktor Chebrikov
Head of Soviet Committee of State Security
Succeeded by
Leonid Shebarshin (Acting)