Committee for State Security - KGB / Komitet Gozudarstvenoy Besopaznosti
organizational structure of the KGB was created in 1954, when the
reorganization of the police apparatus was carried out. In the late
1980s, the KGB remained a highly centralized institution, with controls
implemented by the Politburo through the KGB headquarters in Moscow. The KGB was originally designated as a
"state committee attached to the Council of Ministers." On
July 5, 1978, a new law on the Council of Ministers changed the status
of the KGB, along with that of several other state committees, so that
its chairman was a member of the Council of Ministers by law. According
to the 1977 Soviet Constitution, the Council of Ministers
"coordinates and directs" the work of the ministries and state
committees, including the KGB. In practice, however, the KGB had more
autonomy than most other government bodies and operated with a large
degree of independence from the Council of Ministers. The situation was
similar with the Supreme Soviet, which had formal authority over the
Council of Ministers and its agencies. In 1989 the actual powers of the
Supreme Soviet, however, gave it little if any power over KGB
operations. The KGB was a union-republic state committee,
controlling corresponding state committees of the same name in the
fourteen non-Russian republics. (All-union ministries and state
committees, by contrast, did not have corresponding branches in the
republics but executed their functions directly through Moscow.) Below
the republic level, there existed KGB administrations (upravleniia) in
the kraia and
oblasts. In the Russian Republic, however, there was no separate KGB.
Oblast KGB administrations in the Russian Republic were subordinated
directly to the central KGB offices in Moscow. At the lower levels,
autonomous okruga, cities, and raiony
had KGB departments or sections.
The KGB also had a broad network of special departments in all major government institutions, enterprises, and factories. They generally consisted of one or more KGB representatives, whose purpose was to ensure the observance of security regulations and to monitor political sentiments among employees. The special departments recruited informers to help them in their tasks. A separate and very extensive network of special departments existed within the armed forces and defence related institutions. Although a union-republic agency, the KGB was highly centralized and was controlled rigidly from the top. The KGB central staff kept a close watch over the operations of its branches, leaving the latter minimal autonomous authority over policy or cadre selection. Moreover, local government organs had little involvement in local KGB activities. Indeed, the high degree of centralization in the KGB was reflected in the fact that regional KGB branches were not subordinated to the local soviets, but only to the KGB hierarchy. Thus, they differed from local branches of most union-republic ministerial agencies, such as the MVD, which were subject to dual subordination. The KGB was directed by a chairman who was formally appointed by the Supreme Soviet but actually was selected by the Politburo one or two first deputy chairmen, and several (usually four to six) deputy chairmen. Key decisions were made by the KGB Collegium, which was a collective leadership body composed of the chairman, deputy chairmen, chiefs of certain KGB directorates, and one or two chairmen of republic KGB organizations
As a state committee with ministerial status, the KGB operated on the basis of a statute (polozhenie), confirmed by the Council of Ministers, that set forth in legal terms the KGB's powers and duties. Unlike the majority of statutes governing ministerial agencies, the KGB's statute was not published. Nevertheless, Soviet textbooks on administrative law offered useful statements about the KGB's role and functions. The KGB's tasks were generally defined in official Soviet publications as encompassing four areas: the struggle against foreign spies and agents, the exposure and investigation of political and economic crimes by citizens, the protection of state borders, and the protection of state secrets. In addition, the KGB was charged with a wide range of preventive tasks, which were designed to eliminate the causes of both political and ordinary crimes. In other words, the KGB was tasked with ferreting out potential threats to the state and preventing the development of unorthodox political and social attitudes among the population. Western estimates of KGB manpower have ranged from 490,000 in 1973 to 700,000 in 1986. There are no published estimates of the KGB budget. Many KGB personnel were institutions to which they were assigned, and the KGB received support and services from the military and other institutions, rendering a meaningful budgetary accounting particularly problematic. Official Soviet sources did not discuss the internal structure of the KGB in detail. Nevertheless, some information on KGB organization and functions has been revealed by Soviet defectors and other sources. In 1988 the KGB had five chief directorates and three known (possible another) directorates that were smaller in size and scope than the chief directorates, as well as various other administrative and technical support departments.
The First Chief Directorate (Foreign Operations) was responsible for all foreign operations and intelligence gathering activities. It was divided into both functional services--training and management of covert agents, intelligence analysis, and collection of political, scientific, and technological intelligence and geographic departments for different areas of the world. The Directorage included a spetsnaz group formed in August 1981 to conduct external reconnaissance, sabotage, training and security missions, though in practice the unit was particularly active in internal-security actions.
The Second Chief Directorate was responsible for internal political control of Soviet citizens and foreigners residing within the Soviet Union, including both diplomats and tourists.
The Third Chief Directorate [Armed Forces ]dealt with military counterintelligence and political surveillance of the Soviet armed forces. The Armed Forces Directorate was divided into twelve major departments that oversaw all the various military and paramilitary formations of the Soviet government. Officers from the Directorate were stationed at every echelon of Soviet armed forces down to the company level, in each military district, with every naval group, at each military front. These KGB officers reported through their own chain of command to KGB headquarters.
The Fifth Chief Directorate also dealt with internal security. Created in 1969 late 1960s to combat political dissent, it took up some of the tasks previously handled by the Second Chief Directorate. The Fifth Chief Directorate had special operational departments for religious dissent, national minorities, the intelligentsia and the artistic community, and censorship of literature.
The Seventh Directorate (Surveillance) handled surveillance, providing personnel and technical equipment to follow and monitor the activities of both foreigners and suspect Soviet citizens. Much of this work was centred in the Moscow and Leningrad areas, where tourists, diplomats, foreign students, and members of the Soviet intelligentsia were concentrated. The Al'fa (Alpha) counter terrorist group was subordinated to Seventh Main Directorate. Alpha was involved in many counter terrorist and internal-security missions since its formation in 1974 and was heavily active in special-operations tasks in Afghanistan.
The Eighth Chief Directorate was responsible for the highly sensitive area of communications. The Communications Directorate was tasked with monitoring foreign communications. The Directorate was also responsible for the cryptological systems used by KGB divisions, the transmission of communications to KGB stations overseas, and the development of secure communication equipment.
The Ninth Directorate [Guards Directorate] provided bodyguards for principal Party leaders and their families, and the Kremlin and other major government facilities around the Soviet Union.
The Sixteenth Directorate [former State Communications Department] maintained the telephone and radio systems used by all Soviet government agencies.
Directorate S recruited, trained, and managed KGB officers assigned to foreign countries under false identities. Most of the staff of the Directorate have either served as illegals, or have served abroad under diplomatic cover.
Directorate T was created from the former Department 10 in 1963 to intensify the acquisition of Western strategic, military and industrial technology. By 1972 Directorate T had a headquarters staff of several hundred officers subdivided into four Departments in addition to specialists stationed at major Soviet embassies around the world. The Directorate's operations were coordinated with the scientific and technical collection activities of other KGB elements, and with the State Scientific and Technical Committee ( GNTK).
Directorate I was established in 1969 to review past operations as a guide to improving future initiatives, although in practice it was said to function more as a dumping-ground for aging or inept officers.
Special Service I was responsible for the correlation and dissemination of routine intelligence collected by the First Chief Directorate, apart from technical intelligence collected and processed by Directorate T. Other related responsibilities included publication of a weekly intelligence summary for Party leaders, briefing officers prior to foreign assignment, conducting special studies at Central Committee direction. The products of the Information Service did not consist of finished estimative intelligence, but rather of raw reports that were provided to senior leaders who drew their own conclusions.
Special Service II was tasked countering foreign intelligence agencies, including penetrating foreign security, intelligence and counter-intelligence services to undermine their effectiveness in countering the activities of the KGB. Special Service II was also responsible for the security officers tasked with monitoring Soviet civilians stationed abroad, including Soviet nationals working as correspondents, trade representatives, Aeroflot clerks, or any other capacity.
Department A was responsible for clandestine initiatives and campaigns to influence foreign governments and publics, as well to shape perceptions of individuals and groups hostile to Soviet interests. The majority of the Departments activities were implemented by other KGB elements, or other Soviet organizations.
Department V was responsible for "wet affairs" (mokrie dela) -- murders, kidnappings, and sabotage -- which involve bloodshed. Previously known as the Thirteenth Department or Line F, the Department was enlarged and redesignated in 1969, and tasked with sabotaging critical infrastructure so as to immobilize Western countries during future crises. The Department employed officers stationed in Soviet embassies, illegals stationed abroad, and the services of professional.
The operational core of the First Chief Directorate lay in its geographical departments [numbering ten in the early 1970s and growing to eleven by the late 1980s]. The geographic Departments were responsible for the majority of the KGB enterprises abroad. The duties of this department included the staff of KGB "legal" Residencies [rezidenty] in Soviet embassies, operating under legal cover while engaged in intelligence collection, espionage, and active measures, as well as KGB illegals [apart from those operating under assignment from the Executive Action and Disinformation Departments]. They also managed operations initiated through international communist-front organizations, as well as other agent of influence operations.
1st Department - United States and Canada
2nd Department - Latin America
3rd Department- United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia
4th Department - Federal Republic of Germany, Austria
5th Department - France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Ireland
6th Department - China, North Vietnam, North Korea
7th Department - Japan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the rest of Asia
8th Department - Arab nations, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Greece, Iran, Afghanistan, and Albania
9th Department - English-speaking nations of Africa
10th Department - French-speaking nations of Africa
The 11th Department, formerly known as the Advisers Department, conducted liaison with counterpart services in Cuba and Eastern European countries.
The 12th [Cover Organs] Department provided KGB personnel with cover jobs in other Soviet institutions, as diplomats, journalists, tourists, or delegates to conferences.
The 13th Department provided secure communications with Residencies, officers, and agents in the field.
The 14th Department supplied forged passports and other documents, invisible writing materials, incapacitating chemicals, and other technical devices required in Foreign Directorate operations. Specialists in Soviet embassies monitored local communications and provided technical assistance to the Residency.
15th Department maintained the operational files and archives of the First Chief Directorate.
The 16th Department performed routine personnel functions and recruits prospective staff officers for the First Chief Directorate. Many officer candidates were recruited from the Institutes of International Affairs and Eastern Languages in Moscow.
The KGB had a variety of domestic security functions. It was empowered by law to arrest and investigate individuals for certain types of political and economic crimes. It was also responsible for censorship, propaganda, and the protection of state and military secrets. In carrying out its task of ensuring state security, the KGB was empowered by law to uncover and investigate certain political crimes set forth in the Russian Republic's Code of Criminal Procedure and the criminal codes of other republics. According to the Russian Republic's Code of Criminal Procedure, which came into force in 1960 and has been revised several times since then, the KGB had the authority, together with the Procuracy, to investigate the political crimes of treason, espionage, terrorism, sabotage, anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda, divulgence of state secrets, smuggling, illegal exit abroad, and illegal entry into the Soviet Union. In addition, the KGB was empowered, along with the Procuracy and the MVD, to investigate the following economic crimes: stealing of state property by appropriation or embezzlement or by abuse of official position and stealing of state property or socialist property (see Glossary) on an especially large scale. In carrying out arrests and investigations for these crimes, the KGB was subject to specific rules that were set forth in the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Procuracy was charged with ensuring that these rules were observed. In practice, the Procuracy had little authority over the KGB, and the latter was permitted to circumvent the regulations whenever politically expedient. In 1988 closing some of these loopholes was discussed, and legal experts called for a greater role for the Procuracy in protecting Soviet citizens from abuse by the investigatory organs. As of May 1989, however, few concrete changes had been publicized. It is important to note that the KGB frequently enlisted the MVD and the Procuracy to instigate proceedings against political nonconformists on charges that did not fall under the KGB's purview. Dissidents were often charged for defaming the Soviet state and violating public order. Sometimes the KGB arranged to have them charged for ordinary crimes, such as hooliganism or drug abuse.
The intensity of KGB campaigns against political crime varied considerably over the years. The Khrushchev period was marked by relative tolerance toward dissent, whereas Brezhnev reinstituted a harsh policy. The level of political arrests rose markedly from 1965 to 1973. In 1972 Brezhnev began to pursue détente, and the regime apparently tried to appease Western critics by moderating KGB operations against dissent. There was a sharp reversal after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, and arrests again became more numerous. In 1986, Gorbachev's second year in power, restraint was reintroduced, and the KGB curtailed its arrests. The forcible confinement of dissidents in psychiatric hospitals, where debilitating drugs were administered, was an alternative to straightforward arrests. This procedure avoided the unfavourable publicity that often arose with criminal trials of dissenters. Also, by labelling dissenters madmen, authorities hoped to discredit their actions and deprive them of support. The KGB often arranged for such commitments and maintained an active presence in psychiatric hospitals, despite the fact that these institutions were not under its formal authority. The Gorbachev leadership, as part of its general program of reform, introduced some reforms that were designed to prevent the abuse of psychiatric commitment by Soviet authorities, but the practical effects of these changes remained unclear in 1989. In addition to arrests, psychiatric commitment, and other forms of coercion, the KGB also exercised a preventive function, designed to prevent political crimes and suppress deviant political attitudes. The KGB carried out this function in a variety of ways. For example, when the KGB learned that a Soviet citizen was having contact with foreigners or speaking in a negative fashion about the Soviet regime, it made efforts to set him or her straight by means of a "chat." The KGB also devoted great efforts to political indoctrination and propaganda. At local and regional levels, KGB officials regularly visited factories, schools, collective farms, and Komsomol organizations to deliver talks on political vigilance. National and republic-level KGB officials wrote articles and gave speeches on this theme. Their main message was that the Soviet Union was threatened by the large-scale efforts of Western intelligence agencies to penetrate the country by using cultural, scientific, and tourist exchanges to send in spies. In addition, the KGB claimed that Soviet citizens were barraged by hostile propaganda from the West as part of an effort to undermine the Soviet system.
Another important facet of KGB preventive work was censorship of literature and other media, which it exercised at both an informal and a formal level. The KGB censored informally by harassing writers and artists, arranging for their expulsion from professional organizations or from their jobs, and threatening them with prosecution for their unorthodox views. Such forms of intimidation forced many writers and artists to exercise self censorship by producing only what they thought would be acceptable. The KGB maintained strong surveillance over the Union of Writers, as well as over the journalists' and artists' unions, where KGB representatives occupied top administrative posts. The KGB played an important role in the system of formal censorship by taking part in the work of the Main Administration for Safeguarding State Secrets in the Press (Glavnoe upravlenie po okhrane gosudarstvennykh tain v pechati--Glavlit). Some Western specialists believe that at least one of Glavlit's deputy chiefs was a KGB official and that the KGB assisted in Glavlit's compilation of its Censor's Index, a thick volume, updated frequently, listing all military, technical, statistical, and other subjects that could not be publicized without special permission from the Central Committee. Another important internal security task of the KGB was to provide the leadership with information about the dissident movement and the political attitudes and opinions of the public as a whole. This task by its very nature gave the KGB influence over policy, particularly because Soviet leaders had no direct contact with dissidents and nonconformists and thus relied on KGB information about motives and foreign connections and on its estimates of numbers and support for various groups. The situation probably changed somewhat after Gorbachev introduced the policy of glasnost' in early 1987. After that the KGB no longer had a monopoly on information about the country's political mood because Soviet citizens expressed their views more freely in the press. Nevertheless, the KGB's information gathering continued to be important because direct criticism of the political system was suppressed. Computers no doubt improved KGB methods of processing information and conducting research.
The KGB was given considerable latitude in carrying out the party leadership's policy toward dissent. In other words, the Politburo decided on broad policy guidelines, but the KGB made the day-to-day decisions. Many dissidents, for example, viewed the KGB as extremely powerful and as enjoying considerable autonomy in implementing regime policy. Although the party leadership clearly determined the general policy toward dissent, it had an interest in promoting the idea that the KGB was responsible because the KGB could then be blamed for the injustices suffered by citizens. Furthermore, the image of the KGB's omnipotence has no doubt helped to prevent anti-Soviet behaviour. As Seweryn Bialer, a Western Sovietologist, observed of the Soviet system, "Without doubt the key to stability has been the high visibility of the coercive apparatus and policies." The KGB played an important role in furthering Soviet foreign policy objectives abroad. In addition to straightforward intelligence collection and counterintelligence, the KGB participated in the Kremlin's program of active measures. KGB officials also contributed to foreign policy decision making.
The First Chief Directorate of the KGB was responsible for KGB operations abroad. The longtime head of the First Chief Directorate, Vladimir Kriuchkov, who had served under Andropov and his successors, was named head of the KGB in 1988.
The Second Chief Directorate also played a role in foreign intelligence in 1989. It recruited agents for intelligence purposes from among foreigners stationed in the Soviet Union, and it engaged in counterintelligence by uncovering attempts of foreign intelligence services to recruit Soviet citizens.
The First Chief Directorate was responsible for all international Soviet clandestine activities, apart from military intelligence collection by the GRU and political initiatives of the Communist Party itself.
KGB intelligence gathering in the West increased markedly after the era of détente began in 1972. Détente permitted a vast influx of Soviet and East European diplomatic, cultural, and commercial officials into the United States and other Western countries. KGB officers and their East European counterparts operated under various guises, posing as diplomats, trade officials, journalists, scientists, and students. The proportion of Soviet citizens abroad who were engaged in intelligence gathering was estimated to range from 30 to 40 percent in the United States to over 50 percent in some Third World countries. In addition, many Soviet representatives who were not intelligence officers were nevertheless given some sort of assignment by the KGB. Apparently, the First Chief Directorate had little trouble recruiting personnel for its foreign operations. The high salaries, military rank, access to foreign currency, and opportunity to live abroad offered attractive enticements to young people choosing a career. First Chief Directorate recruits were usually graduates of prestigious higher education institutions and had knowledge of one or more foreign languages. The KGB had a two-year postgraduate training course for these recruits at its Higher Intelligence School located near Moscow. The curriculum included the use of ciphers, arms and sabotage training, history and economics according to Marxist Leninist theory, CPSU history, law, and foreign languages. The KGB was the primary agency responsible for supplying the Kremlin with foreign intelligence. According to former Soviet diplomat Arkady Shevchenko, Moscow cabled out questions on a daily basis to KGB rezidenty abroad to guide them in their tasks. In addition to political intelligence, KGB officers concentrated increasingly on efforts to acquire advanced Western technology. The KGB reportedly acted as a collector of militarily significant Western technology (in the form of documents and hardware) on behalf of the Military Industrial Commission of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers. This commission coordinated the development of all Soviet weapons systems, along with the program to acquire Western technology, and it levied requirements among the KGB, the Main Intelligence Directorate, and several other agencies, including those of East European intelligence services. The KGB and the GRU increased their technical collection efforts considerably in the early 1980s, when the number of requirements levied on them by the Military Industrial Commission rose by about 50 percent. The Andropov era saw a greater orientation in the KGB toward electronic espionage, communications intercepts and satellites, to supplement intelligence gathered by agents. According to Robert Campbell, the Soviet Union deployed at least three satellites for intelligence collection. Some of the intelligence may have been strictly military and therefore collected by the GRU, but the KGB reportedly also made use of these satellites.
|Active measures were
clandestine operations designed to further Soviet foreign policy goals
and to extend Soviet influence throughout the world. This type of
activity had long been employed by the Soviet Union abroad, but it
became more widespread and more effective in the late 1960s. Among these
covert techniques was disinformation: leaking of false information and rumours
to foreign media or planting forgeries in an attempt to deceive
the public or the political elite in a given country or countries. The
United States was the prime target of disinformation, in particular
forgery operations, which were designed to damage foreign and defence policies of the United States in a variety of ways. Defectors reported
that the Soviet Union and its allies circulated forged documents--often
purporting to be speeches, letters, or policy statements by United
States officials--containing false information. The use of international
front organizations and foreign communist parties to expand the Soviet
Union's political influence and further its propaganda campaigns was
another form of active measures. The World Peace Council was the largest
and most important of Soviet front groups. Together with the
International Department of the Central Committee, the KGB funnelled money to these organizations and recruited Soviet agents to serve on
their administrative bodies. Other active measures involved support for
terrorists and insurgents. As of 1989, there was no direct, public
evidence that Soviet citizens had planned or orchestrated terrorist acts
by groups from Western Europe or the Middle East, but there was much
indirect evidence to show that the Soviet Union did support
international terrorism. The Soviet Union maintained close relationships
with a number of governments and organizations that were direct
supporters of terrorist groups. The Soviet Union sold large quantities
of arms to Libya and Syria, for example, and also maintained a close
alliance with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), providing it
with arms, monetary assistance, and paramilitary training. Moscow's
surrogate, Cuba, played a central role in Latin American terrorism by
providing groups with training, arms, and sanctuary, and the Soviet
Union's East European satellite states often served as middlemen or
subcontractors for channelling aid to terrorist groups. Although the KGB,
with some exceptions, avoided direct involvement with terrorist
operations, it played an important role in diverting aid to these groups
and providing the Soviet leadership with intelligence reports on their
The KGB also was heavily involved in the support of "wars of national liberation" in the Third World. Together with satellite intelligence services, the KGB helped to organize military training and political indoctrination of leftist guerrillas, as well as providing arms and advisers. The manipulation of wars of national liberation enabled the Soviet Union to influence the political future of the countries in question and to make their new governments more responsive to Soviet objectives. The Soviet regime concentrated mainly on African countries until the late 1970s but then extended its support for "national liberation movements" to Central America, where it has regularly employed the services of Cuba. The KGB relied heavily on the intelligence services of satellite countries in carrying out both active measures and espionage operations. The intelligence services of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Cuba formed important adjuncts to the KGB. Although formally subordinated to their own governments, these satellite intelligence services were, according to many Western experts, heavily influenced by the KGB. A former official in the Czechoslovak intelligence service stated that Soviet intelligence was informed about every major aspect of Czechoslovak intelligence activities, and Soviet advisers (called liaison officers) participated in planning major operations and assessing the results. As far back as the 1960s, the KGB introduced a new element of coordination with the satellite intelligence services through the creation of departments for disinformation in East German, Czechoslovak, and Hungarian intelligence services and the establishment of direct lines of communication from these departments to the KGB. Soviet active measures involved not only KGB and satellite intelligence services but also several other Soviet agencies, which all participated in a coordinated effort to further Soviet policy objectives. In addition to the KGB, the Central Committee's International Department took a leading role in directing and implementing active measures
The KGB participated in the foreign policy decision-making process at the highest level because its chief was a member of the Politburo. At the same time, it influenced the formulation of foreign policy at a lower level as an executor of that policy, a provider of information, and a generator of ideas, solutions, and alternatives. Thus, for example, when the Kremlin decided to invade Czechoslovakia in 1968, KGB chief Andropov, who was an expert on Eastern Europe and had a direct line of intelligence from Czechoslovakia, presumably influenced the decision-making process significantly. Furthermore, the KGB, as the main provider of intelligence to the leadership, was in a position to influence decision making by screening and interpreting the information. The KGB probably favoured the invasion because of the threat posed by a possible spillover of unrest into the Soviet Union. Also, efforts by Czechoslovak reformers to reorganize their security police jeopardized KGB operations in Czechoslovakia. Considerable evidence showed that the KGB, in order to bolster the prointerventionist position, used intelligence and covert action to produce proof of counterrevolution in Czechoslovakia. Andropov did not always favour military intervention as a solution to international problems, however. Other considerations, such as the Soviet Union's international image, no doubt affected his views on the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan (which he reportedly did not favour) and the 1980-81 Polish crisis (where he probably was among those who opposed an invasion). Both these crises occurred at a time when the KGB was trying to mobilize West European public opinion against plans by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to introduce intermediate-range missiles in Europe.
Chebrikov did not have Andropov's foreign policy expertise when he took over as head of the KGB in 1982, but his admission to the Politburo gave him a voice in foreign policy at the highest level. In addition, many Western experts believe that the KGB chairman served on the Defence Council, an important collegial decision making body that provided top-level coordination for defence related activities of the Soviet government. Chebrikov's numerous trips to Eastern Europe after he became head of the KGB indicated that he was personally involved in KGB operations beyond Soviet borders, and his forceful advocacy of Soviet "counterpropaganda" efforts abroad implied a commitment to a strong foreign policy role for the KGB. Kriuchkov, who became head of the KGB in 1988, had been extensively involved in foreign operations as the chief of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB.
Special Departments in the Armed Forces
|Since the 1920s, an
important internal security function of the security police has been
ensuring the political reliability of the armed forces. This function
was carried out through a network of so-called special departments (osobye
otdely), which were under the supervision of the KGB's Third Chief
Directorate. Officially designated as a military counterintelligence
organization, the Third Chief Directorate performed tasks that extended
far beyond counterintelligence to encompass extensive political
surveillance of the military and other military security duties. Special departments were responsible for
security clearances of military personnel and for ensuring that security
regulations and procedures were strictly observed in all branches of the
armed forces. Thus they had control over (or at least immediate access
to) military personnel files and information relating to the political
reliability of members of the armed forces. The leadership claimed that
their armed forces were continually threatened by ideological sabotage,
i.e., attempts by Western governments to subvert individuals through
bourgeois propaganda aimed at weakening their political convictions.
Hence a key element of special department activities was political
surveillance on both a formal and an informal level. Officially special departments were empowered
to investigate armed forces personnel for the same crimes that were
under KGB purview for ordinary citizens. In addition, the KGB had the
authority to investigate military crimes defined in Article 259 of the
Russian Republic's Code of Criminal Procedure--disclosure of a military
secret or loss of a document containing a military secret. In
investigating cases under their purview, special department employees
were supposed to follow set rules of criminal procedure, but they did
not always do so. In 1989, however, they no longer had the right to
conduct trials, as they did during Stalin's time. Once an investigation was
completed, the case was tried by special military tribunals under the
Main Military Procuracy.
In addition to criminal investigations, the special departments had extensive informal responsibilities for ensuring the political reliability of the armed forces. Soviet authorities stated that they prevented political crimes by various preventive measures. Thus they carried on daily educational activities to increase political vigilance and communist ideological convictions among the armed forces and monitored telephone conversations and correspondence of military personnel. Special departments relied heavily on a broad network of informers, recruited from among military personnel. The special departments were also charged with protecting all state and military secrets, including those involving nuclear weapons, a task that placed them in a position of considerable strategic importance. One Soviet official pointed out that "the reliable defence of Soviet forces from all types of espionage took on special significance when the basic defensive strength of the country came to consist of the most contemporary weapons systems, especially ballistic nuclear weapons." According to Western sources, the KGB had custody and transport responsibilities for nuclear charges, which were separated from missiles and aircraft, until the late 1960s. At that time the KGB apparently relinquished its physical control over nuclear warheads, but it remained involved in the nuclear control process. Not only did it maintain a strategic communications network independent of the military communications system, but its responsibilities for protecting nuclear secrets presumably gave the KGB access to nuclear weapons installations as well as to military plans regarding the use of nuclear weapons.
|The Border Troops,
distinguishable by green piping on their uniforms, were organized under
the KGB's unnumbered Border Troops Directorate, which was headed in 1989
by Army General Viktor Matrosov. He was assisted by one or more first
deputy chiefs, several deputy chiefs, and a chief of staff. Within the
directorate, a political administration provided political
indoctrination and surveillance on behalf of the party. Western
specialists reported that there was an intelligence administration
within the Border Troops Directorate, but this had not been confirmed by
Soviet sources. The Border Troops strength was estimated in
1989 to be in the range of 230,000 men, down from the estimated 300,000
personnel in the early 1970s. Although under the operational authority
of the KGB, the Border Troops were conscripted as part of the biannual
call-up of the Ministry of Defence, and their induction and discharge
were regulated by the 1967 Law on Universal Military Service, which
covered all armed forces of the Soviet Union. The legal status, duties, and rights of the
Border Troops were set forth in the Law on the State Border, confirmed
by the Supreme Soviet on November 24, 1982. Article 28 defined the basic
duties of the Border Troops. Their duties included repulsing armed
incursions into Soviet territory; preventing illegal crossings of the
border or the transport of weapons, explosives, contraband, or
subversive literature across the border; monitoring the observance of
established procedures at border crossing points; monitoring the
observance by Soviet and foreign ships of navigation procedures in
Soviet territorial waters; and assisting state agencies in the
preservation of natural resources and the protection of the environment
from pollution. Border guards were authorized to examine documents and
possessions of persons crossing the borders and to confiscate articles;
to conduct inquiries in cases of violations of the state border; and to
take such actions as arrest, search, and interrogation of individuals
suspected of border violations.
The Border Troops Directorate administered approximately nine border districts (pogranichnye okruga), which covered the nearly 63,000 kilometres of the state border. Border district boundaries were distinct from civil or military district boundaries. The nine border districts were subdivided into detachments (otriady), covering specific sections of the border, border command posts (pogranichnye komendatury), passport control points (kontrol'no-propusknye punkty), and border outposts (zastavy). The border area was divided into a border zone, which included the territory of the district and settlements adjacent to the state border, and the border strip, which was approximately two kilometres in depth, running directly along the border. Only permanent residents or those who had obtained special permission from the MVD could enter the border zone. Entry into the border strip was forbidden without special permission from the Border Troops. Soviet sources repeatedly stressed that a border guard was not only a soldier but also a defender of Soviet ideology. His mission entailed sensitive political tasks, such as detecting subversive literature, and shooting citizens attempting to escape across the border. Enlisted men were trained with their operational units, whereas officers were trained in special Border Troops schools, such as the Dzerzhinskii Higher Border Command School and the Higher Border School in Moscow. Military-political officers received training at the Voroshilov Higher Border Military Political Academy, founded in the 1930s and located outside Leningrad. In 1972 a higher border military-political school was created in Golytsin, near Moscow. More recently, higher border command faculties were set up at the Frunze Military Academy and the Lenin Military-Political Academy. The period of instruction at the Dzerzhinskii Higher Border Command School was four years. Officer candidates, who were screened carefully by their local KGB offices before admittance, took general higher education courses along with specialized military and political studies.
To ensure a high level of discipline among
personnel of the Border Troops, much attention was devoted to political
training and indoctrination. For this purpose, a network of political
organs, the Political Directorate of the Border Troops, was
established within the Border Troops. It had political departments
within all the border districts, detachments, and education
institutions, and a network of full-time party political officers worked
among all troop units. They conducted political study groups, gave
propaganda lectures, and worked to increase the level of combat
effectiveness among the troops. The Border Troops Directorate
protected Soviet land and sea borders.
Party personnel policy toward the KGB was designed not only to ensure that the overall security needs of the state were met by means of an efficient and well-functioning political police organization but also to prevent the police from becoming too powerful and threatening the party leadership. Achieving these two goals required the careful recruitment and promotion of KGB officials who had the appropriate education, experience, and qualifications as determined by the party. Judging from the limited biographical information on KGB employees, the Komsomol and the party were the main sources of recruitment to the KGB. Russians and Ukrainians predominated in the KGB; other nationalities were only minimally represented. In the non-Russian republics, KGB chairmen were often representatives of the indigenous nationality, as were other KGB employees. In such areas, however, KGB headquarters in Moscow appointed Russians to the post of first deputy chairman, and they monitored activities and reported back to Moscow. Career patterns indicate that the KGB was a highly professional bureaucratic group with distinct characteristics that set it off from other Soviet elites. After the purges at the top levels of the police apparatus and the introduction of party and other cadres into the newly created KGB in 1954, the influx of outsiders was small, except at the very highest levels. Turnover rates were low in the KGB as compared with other bureaucracies, and KGB officials enjoyed security of tenure, as well as numerous material rewards. The KGB became and in the 1980s remained a closed bureaucracy of specialists, similar to the military. The homogeneity of their backgrounds and their sense of eliteness created a strong esprit de corps among KGB officials.
|The KGB's Security Troops, which numbered about 40,000 in 1989, provided the KGB with a coercive potential. Although Soviet sources did not specify the functions of these special troops, Western analysts thought that one of their main tasks was to guard the top leadership in the Kremlin, as well as key government and party buildings and officials at the republic and regional levels. Such troops were presumably under the Ninth Directorate of the KGB. The Security Troops also included several units of signal troops, which were reportedly responsible for installation, maintenance, and operation of secret communications facilities for leading party and government bodies, including the Ministry of Defence. These troops were probably under the command of the Eighth Chief Directorate. Other special KGB troops were intended for counter terrorist and counterinsurgency operations. Such troops were reportedly employed, along with the MVD's Internal Troops, to suppress public protests and disperse demonstrations, such as that of the Crimean Tatars in July 1987 and those in the republics of Armenia and Azerbaydzhan in March 1988. Special KGB troops also were trained for sabotage and diversionary missions abroad|