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KGB (КГБ) is the commonly used acronym for the Russian: About this sound Комитет государственной безопасности (help·info) (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti or Committee for State Security). It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time. The KGB has been considered a military service and was governed by army laws and regulations, similar to the Soviet Army or MVD Internal Troops. While most of the KGB archives remain classified, two on-line documentary sources are available.

Since breaking away from Georgia de facto in the early 1990s with Russian help, South Ossetia established its own KGB (keeping this unreformed name).[3] The State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus also uses the acronym KGB.

Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti
Комитет государственной безопасности
Emblema KGB.svg
The KGB Sword-and-Shield emblem.
Agency overview
Formed January 1, 1954; 58 years ago
Dissolved 6 November 1991 (de facto)
3 December 1991 (de jure)
Superseding agency Federal Security Service
Foreign Intelligence Service
Jurisdiction Council of Ministers of the USSR
Headquarters Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union

Mode of operation

A 1983 Time magazine article reported that the KGB was the world’s most effective information-gathering organization.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 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 agent). 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).

The KGB classified its spies as agents (intelligence providers) and controllers (intelligence relayers). The false-identity or legend assumed by a USSR-born illegal spy was elaborate, using the life of either a “live double” (participant to the fabrication) or a “dead double” (whose identity is tailored to the spy). The agent then substantiated his or her legend by living it in a foreign country, before emigrating to the target country, thus the sending of US-bound illegal residents 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 agents provocateur, who would infiltrate the target group to sow dissension, influence policy, and arrange kidnappings and assassinations.


The Cheka was established to defend the October Revolution and the nascent Bolshevik state from its enemies—principally the monarchist White Army. To ensure the Bolshevik regime’s survival, the Cheka suppressed counter-revolutionary activity with domestic terror and international deception. The scope of foreign intelligence operations prompted Lenin to authorise the Cheka’s creation of the INO (Innostranyi Otdel—Foreign-intelligence Department)—the precursor to the First Chief Directorate (FCD) of the KGB. In 1922, Lenin’s regime renamed the Cheka as the State Political Directorate (OGPU).[6]

The OGPU expanded Soviet espionage nationally and internationally, and provided Joseph Stalin with his head personal bodyguard: Nikolai Vlasik. The vagaries of Stalin’s paranoia influenced the OGPU’s performance and direction in the 1930s, i.e. Trotskyist conspiracies. Acting as his own analyst, Stalin unwisely subordinated intelligence analysis to intelligence collection. Eventually, reports pandered to his conspiracy fantasies. The middle history of the KGB culminates in the Great Purge (1936–1938) killings of civil, military, and government people deemed politically unreliable. Among those executed were NKVD chairmen Genrikh Yagoda (1938) and Nikolai Yezhov (1940); later, Lavrentiy Beria (1953) followed suit. Ironically, Yezhov denounced Yagoda for executing the Great Terror, which from 1937 to 1938 is called Yezhovshchina, the especially cruel “Yezhov era”.

Genrikh Yagoda
Russian: Генрих Григорьевич Ягода
Genrikh Yagoda in 1936
People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs (NKVD)
In office
10 July 1934 – 26 September 1936
Preceded by none
Succeeded by Nikolai Yezhov
Personal details
Born 1891
Rybinsk, Russian Empire
Died March 15, 1938 (aged 46-47)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Nationality Soviet
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Nikolai Yezhov
Russian: Николай Иванович Ежов
People’s Commissar for State Security
In office
January 27, 1937 – November 25, 1938
People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs (NKVD)
In office
September 26, 1936 – January 27, 1937
Preceded by Genrikh Yagoda
Succeeded by Lavrentiy Beria
People’s Commissar for Water Transport (NKVT)
In office
April 6, 1938 – April 9, 1939
Succeeded by None-position abolished
Personal details
Born May 1, 1895
St. Petersburg, Russia
Died February 4, 1940 (aged 44)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Spouse(s) Antonia Titova (1919-1930),
Yevgenia Feigenberg (1930-1938)
Children (to Yevgenia) Natasha Yezhova
Nickname(s) Russian: Ежевика (Blackberry)
Iron Hedgehog
Lavrentiy Beria
First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union
In office
5 March 1953 – 26 June 1953
Premier Georgy Malenkov
Preceded by Vyacheslav Molotov
Succeeded by Lazar Kaganovich
Minister of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union
In office
5 March 1953 – 26 June 1953
Preceded by Sergei Kruglov
Succeeded by Sergei Kruglov
In office
25 November 1938 – 29 December 1945
Preceded by Nikolai Yezhov
Succeeded by Sergei Kruglov
First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party
In office
15 January 1934 – 31 August 1938
Preceded by Petre Agniashvili
Succeeded by Candide Charkviani
In office
14 November 1931 – 18 October 1932
Preceded by Lavrenty Kartvelishvili
Succeeded by Petre Agniashvili
Personal details
Born Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria
29 March 1899
Merkheuli, Kutaisi Governorate, Russian Empire
Died 23 December 1953 (aged 54)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Nationality Soviet
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Military service
Rank Marshal of the Soviet Union
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Hero of the Soviet Union Medal Stalin Prize.png Medal Stalin Prize.png Badge Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.jpg
Order of Lenin ribbon bar.png Order of Lenin ribbon bar.png Order of Lenin ribbon bar.png Order of Lenin ribbon bar.png
Order of Lenin ribbon bar.png Order of Red Banner ribbon bar.png Order of Red Banner ribbon bar.png Order of Red Banner ribbon bar.png
Order suvorov1 rib.png OrdenSuheBator.png

In 1941, under Chairman Lavrentiy Beria, the OGPU became the NKGB (People’s Commissariat for State Security, integral to the NKVD) and recovered from the Great Purge of the thirties. Yet, the NKGB unwisely continued pandering to Stalin’s conspiracy fantasies—whilst simultaneously achieving its deepest penetrations of the West. Next, Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov centralised the intelligence agencies, re-organising the NKGB as the KI (Komitet Informatsii—Committee of Information), composed (1947–51) of the MGB (Ministry for State Security) and the GRU (Foreign military Intelligence Directorate). In practice making an ambassador head of the MGB and GRU legal residencies in his embassy; intelligence operations were under political control; the KI ended when Molotov incurred Stalin’s disfavor. Despite its political end, the KI’s contribution to Soviet intelligence was reliant upon illegal residents—spies able to establish a more secure base of operations in the target country.

Vyacheslav Molotov
Вячеслав Молотов
First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union
In office
16 August 1942 – 29 June 1957
Premier Joseph Stalin
Georgy Malenkov
Nikolai Bulganin
Preceded by Nikolai Voznesensky
Succeeded by Nikolai Bulganin
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
5 March 1953 – 1 June 1956
Premier Georgy Malenkov
Nikolai Bulganin
Preceded by Andrey Vyshinsky
Succeeded by Dmitri Shepilov
In office
3 May 1939 – 4 March 1949
Premier Joseph Stalin
Preceded by Maxim Litvinov
Succeeded by Andrey Vyshinsky
Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union
In office
19 December 1930 – 6 May 1941
First Deputies Valerian Kuibyshev
Nikolai Voznesensky
Preceded by Alexei Rykov
Succeeded by Joseph Stalin
Responsible Secretary of the Russian Communist Party
In office
March 1921 – April 1922
Preceded by Nikolay Krestinsky
Succeeded by Joseph Stalin
(as General Secretary)
Full member of the Presidium
In office
1 January 1926 – 29 June 1957
Candidate member of the Politburo
In office
16 March 1921 – 1 January 1926
Member of the Secretariat
In office
16 March 1921 – 21 December 1930
Member of the Orgburo
In office
16 March 1921 – 21 December 1930
Personal details
Born Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin
9 March 1890
Kukarka, Russian Empire
Died 8 November 1986 (aged 96)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Citizenship Soviet
Nationality Russian
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Spouse(s) Polina Zhemchuzhina
Religion None (Atheist)

The Jubilee Congress 70 years KGB USSR. (1987)

Moreover, expecting to succeed Joseph Stalin as leader of the USSR, the ambitious head of the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs), Lavrentiy Beria, merged the MGB and the MVD on Stalin’s death in 1953. Anticipating a coup d’etat, the Presidium swiftly eliminated Beria with treasonous charges of “criminal anti-Party and anti-state activities” and executed him. In the event, the MGB was renamed KGB, detached from the MVD, and demoted from Cabinet to Committee level.

Mindful of ambitious spy chiefs—and after deposing Premier Nikita Khrushchev—Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and the CPSU knew to manage the next over-ambitious KGB Chairman, Aleksandr Shelepin (1958–61), who facilitated Brezhnev’s palace coup d’état against Khrushchev in 1964 (despite Shelepin not then being in KGB). With political reassignments, Shelepin protégé Vladimir Semichastny (1961–67)- picture below :

was sacked as KGB Chairman, and Shelepin, himself, was demoted from chairman of the Committee of Party and State Control to Trade Union Council chairman.

Nikita Khrushchev
Никита Хрущёв
A portrait shot of an older, bald man with bifocal glasses. He is wearing a blazer over a collared shirt and tie. In his hands, he is holding a set of papers.
First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
In office
September 14, 1953 – October 14, 1964
Preceded by Joseph Stalin
Succeeded by Leonid Brezhnev
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union
In office
March 27, 1958 – October 14, 1964
First Deputies
Preceded by Nikolai Bulganin
Succeeded by Alexei Kosygin
Chairman of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian SFSR
In office
February 27, 1956 – November 16, 1964
Deputy Andrei Kirilenko
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Leonid Brezhnev
Full member of the Presidium
In office
March 22, 1939 – November 16, 1964
Member of the Secretariat
In office
December 16, 1949 – October 14, 1964
Member of the Orgburo
In office
December 16, 1949 – October 14, 1952
Candidate member of the Politburo
In office
January 18, 1938 – March 22, 1939
Personal details
Born April 15, 1894
Kalinovka, Dmitriyevsky Uyezd, Kursk Governorate, Russian Empire
Died September 11, 1971 (aged 77)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Nationality Soviet
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
  • Yefrosinia Khrushcheva (1916–1919, died)
  • Marusia Khrushcheva (1922, separated)
  • Nina Khrushcheva (1923–1971, survived as widow)
Religion None (Atheist)
Signature A scrawled "Н Хрущёв"
Alexander Shelepin
Алекса́ндр Шеле́пин
Chairman of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions
In office
Premier Alexei Kosygin
Preceded by Viktor Grishin
Succeeded by Alexey Shibaev
Chairman of the Committee for State Security
In office
25 December 1958 – 13 November 1961
Premier Nikita Khrushchev
Preceded by Ivan Serov
Succeeded by Vladimir Semichastny
Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers
In office
19 May 1972 – 7 May 1973
Premier Alexei Kosygin
Preceded by Mikhail Yefremov
Succeeded by Zia Nureyev
First Secretary of the Komsomol
In office
30 October 1952 – 28 March 1958
CPSU leader Joseph Stalin
Nikita Khrushchev
Preceded by Nikolai Mikhailov
Succeeded by Vladimir Semichastny
Personal details
Born 18 August 1918
Voronezh, Soviet Russia
Died 24 October 1994 (aged 76)
Moscow, Russian Federation
Citizenship Soviet (until 1991) and Russian
Nationality Russian
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union

In the 1980s, the glasnost liberalisation of Soviet society provoked KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov (1988–91) to lead the August 1991 Soviet coup d’état attempt to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev. The thwarted coup d’état ended the KGB on 6 November 1991. The KGB’s successors are the secret police agency FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) and the espionage agency SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service).

KGB in the US

The World War Interregnum

The GRU (military intelligence) recruited the ideological agents Julian Wadleigh and Alger Hiss,

Alger Hiss

Alger Hiss testifying
Born November 11, 1904
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died November 15, 1996 (aged 92)
New York City, New York, United States
Education Baltimore City College high school
Johns Hopkins University
Harvard Law School
Spouse Priscilla Fansler Hobson (1903–1984) (m. 1929–1984)

Isabel Johnson (m. 1985–1996)

Children Tony Hiss
Parents Mary Lavinia Hughes
Charles Alger Hiss
Relatives Bosley Hiss, brother
Donald Hiss, brother
Anna Hiss, sister
Mary Ann Hiss, sister

who became State Department diplomats 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. Throughout, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and its General Secretary Earl Browder, helped NKVD recruit Americans, working in government, business, and industry.

Iskhak Akhmerov: covert NKVD resident in New York 1942 – 1945

Other important, 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,

Harry Dexter White

Harry Dexter White (left) with John Maynard Keynes at the Bretton Woods Conference
Born October 9, 1892
Boston, Massachusetts
Died August 16, 1948 (aged 55)
Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire
Education Columbia University
Stanford University
Harvard University
Occupation Economist
Employer Lawrence University
U.S. Treasury department
Known for Bretton Woods agreement
Parents Joseph Weit
Sarah Magilewski

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.Moreover, when Whittaker Chambers, formerly Alger Hiss’s courier,

Whittaker Chambers

Whittaker Chambers in 1948
Allegiance Soviet Union; then U.S.A.
Service Communist underground” controlled by GRU (prior to defection)
Active 1932-1938
Award(s) Presidential Medal of Freedom
Codename(s) Carl
David Breen
Lloyd Cantwell

Birth name Jay Vivian Chambers
Born April 1, 1901
Died July 9, 1961 (aged 60)
Cause of
Heart attack
Parents Jay Chambers, Laha Whittaker
Spouse Esther Shemitz
Occupation Journalist, Writer, Spy, Poet
Alma mater Columbia University

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 Teheran (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.

Soviet espionage succeeded most in collecting scientific and technologic 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 In 1944, the New York City residency infiltrated the top secret Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, by recruiting Theodore Hall, a nineteen-year-old Harvard physicist.

Klaus Fuchs

Klaus Fuchs’ ID badge at Los Alamos.
Born Klaus Emil Julius Fuchs
29 December 1911
Rüsselsheim, Germany
Died 28 January 1988 (aged 76)
Dresden, East Germany
Residence Germany
United Kingdom
United States of America
East Germany
Nationality German
Institutions Los Alamos National Laboratory
Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment
Institute for Nuclear Research in Rossendorf
Theodore Alvin Hall

Hall’s ID badge photo from Los Alamos
Born Theodore Alvin Holtzberg
October 20, 1925
New York City, USA
Died November 1, 1999 (aged 74)
Cambridge, England
Cause of death Cancer
Education Harvard University
University of Chicago
Employer Manhattan Project
Known for Atomic spy

During the Cold War

The KGB failed to rebuild most of its US illegal resident networks. The aftermath of the Second Red Scare (1947–57), McCarthyism, and the destruction of the CPUSA hampered recruitment. The last major illegal resident, Rudolf Abel (“Willie” Vilyam Fisher), was betrayed by his assistant, Reino Häyhänen, in 1957.

Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher
A reproduction of a stamp showing a drawing of a balding elderly man wearing glasses
Soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Abel on a 1990 USSR commemorative stamp
Allegiance  Soviet Union
Rank Colonel
Operation(s) World War II
Soviet Cold War spy
Award(s) Order of the Red Banner
Codename(s) Andrew Yurgesovich Kayotis
Emil Robert Goldfus
Mark Collins[1]
Martin Collins
Robert Callan
Rudolf Ivanovich Abel

Born July 11, 1903
Died November 15, 1971 (aged 68)
Cause of
Lung cancer
Buried Moscow, Soviet Union
Nationality  United Kingdom
 Soviet Union
Parents Heinrich Fisher
Lyubov Fisher
Spouse Elena
Children Evelyn


Recruitment then emphasised mercenary agents, an approach especially successfulin scientific and technical espionage—because private industry practiced lax internal security, unlike the US Government. In late 1967, the notable KGB success was the walk-in recruitment of US Navy Chief Warrant Officer John Anthony Walker who individually and via the Walker Spy Ring for eighteen years enabled Soviet Intelligence to decipher some one million US Navy messages, and track the US Navy.

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

KGB in the Soviet Bloc

Russian President Vladimir Putin worked extensively in Dresden, East Germany during the 1980s.

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 1968 Czechoslovakia.

During the Hungarian revolt, KGB chairman Ivan Serov personally supervised the post-invasion “normalization” of the country. In consequence, 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.

The KGB prepared the Red Army’s route by infiltrating to Czechoslovakia 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 Vasil Biľak, to assume power after the Red Army’s invasion.

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 PUWP régime. Despite its accurate forecast of crisis, the Polish United Workers’ Party (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, and in Operation X co-ordinated the declaration of martial law with Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski and the Polish Communist Party; however, the vacillating, conciliatory Polish approach blunted KGB effectiveness—and Solidarity then fatally weakened the Communist Polish government in 1989.

Suppressing internal dissent

Monument to KGB victims, Vilnius, Lithuania.

During the Cold War, the KGB actively suppressed “ideological subversion”—unorthodox political and religious ideas and the espousing dissidents. In 1967, the suppression increased under new KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov.

After denouncing Stalinism in his secret speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences (1956), Nikita Khrushchev lessened suppression of “ideological subversion”. Resultantly, critical literature re-emerged, notably the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; however, after Khrushchev’s deposition in 1964, Leonid Brezhnev reverted the State and KGB to actively harsh suppression—routine house searches to seize documents and the continual monitoring of dissidents. To wit, in 1965, such a search-and-seizure operation yielded Solzhenitsyn (code-name PAUK, “spider”) 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.


Andrei Donatovich Sinyavsky (Russian language: Андрей Донатович Синявский) (8 October 1925, Moscow – 25 February 1997, Paris) was a Russian writer, dissident, political prisoner, emigrant, Professor of Sorbonne University, magazine founder and publisher. He frequently wrote under the pseudonym Абрам Терц (Abram Tertz).

Andrei Sinyavsky c. 1973

During a time of extreme censorship in the Soviet Union, Sinyavsky published his novels in the West under a pseudonym. The historical Abram Tertz was a Jewish gangster from Russia’s past, Sinyavsky himself was not Jewish; his father, Donat Sinyavsky, was a Russian nobleman from Syzran, who turned Social Revolutionary and was arrested (after the revolution) several times as an “enemy of the people”. During his last stay in jail Donat Sinyavsky became ill, and, after his release, developed mental illness. Andrei Sinyavsky described his father’s experiences in the novel “Goodnight!” Sinyavsky’s mother was of a Russian peasant background.

A protégé of Boris Pasternak, Sinyavsky described the realities of Soviet life in short fiction stories. In 1965, he was arrested, along with fellow-writer and friend Yuli Daniel, and tried in the infamous Sinyavsky-Daniel show trial. On 14 February 1966, Sinyavsky was sentenced to seven years on charges of “anti-Soviet activity” for the opinions of his fictional characters.

The affair was accompanied by harsh propaganda campaigns in the Soviet media and was perceived as a sign of demise of the Khrushchev Thaw.

As historian Fred Coleman writes, “Historians now have no difficulty pinpointing the birth of the modern Soviet dissident movement. It began in February 1966 with the trial of Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel, two Russian writers who ridiculed the Communist regime in satires smuggled abroad and published under pen names…Little did they realize at the time that they were starting a movement that would help end Communist rule.”[1]

Sinyavsky was released in 1971 and allowed to emigrate in 1973 to France, where he was one of co-founders, together with his wife Maria Rozanova of the Russian-language almanac Sintaksis. He actively contributed to Radio Liberty.[2] He died in 1997 in Fontenay-aux-Roses, near Paris.

Andrei Sinyavsky’s grave (Cimetière communal de Fontenay-aux-Roses, Rue des Pierrelais 18) Google maps view

Yuli Daliel

The bookcover of The Letters from Prison
Born Yuli Daliel
November 25, 1925
Moscow, Russia
Died December 30, 1988 (aged 63)
Nationality Soviet
Spouse(s) Larisa Bogoraz

Yuli Daniel was born in Moscow into the family of Yiddish playwright M. Daniel (Mark Meyerovich, Russian: Марк Наумович Меерович), who took the pseudonym Daniel. The famous march song of the Soviet young pioneers, “Орленок” (Young Eagle), was originally written for one of his plays. Daniel’s uncle, an ardent revolutionary (alias Liberten), was a member of Comintern who perished in the Great Purge.

In 1942, during World War II, Daniel lied about his age and volunteered to serve at the front. He fought in the 2nd Ukrainian and the 3rd Belorussian fronts, in 1944 was critically wounded in his legs and demobilized due to his resultant disability.

Writing and arrest

In 1950, he graduated from Moscow Pedagogical Institute and worked as a school teacher in Kaluga and Moscow regions. He published his poetry translations from a variety of languages. Daniel and his friend Andrei Sinyavsky also wrote satirical novels and smuggled them to France to be published under pseudonyms. (See samizdat)

He married Larisa Bogoraz who later also became a famous dissident. In 1965, Daniel and Sinyavsky were arrested and tried in the infamous Sinyavsky-Daniel trial. On February 14, 1966, Daniel was sentenced to five years of hard labor for “anti-Soviet activity”. Both writers entered a plea of not guilty, unprecedented in the USSR


Sinyavsky was the catalyst for the formation of an important Russian-English translation team: Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear, who have translated a number of works by Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevski, Nikolai Gogol, Anton Chekhov, and Mikhail Bulgakov. Volokhonsky, who was born and raised in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), first visited the United States in the early 1970s and happened across Pevear’s Hudson Review article about Sinyavsky. At the time, Pevear believed Sinyavsky was still in a Russian prison; Volokhonsky had just helped him immigrate to Paris. Pevear was surprised and pleased to be mistaken: “Larissa had just helped Sinyavsky leave Russia,” Pevear recalled. “And she let me know that, while I’d said he was still in prison, he was actually in Paris. I was glad to know it.”

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”.Andropov failed to expel Solzhenitsyn before 1974; but did internally exile Sakharov to Gorky city [Nizhny Novgorod] in 1980. 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.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

After returning to Russia from exile in 1994.
Born Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
11 December 1918
Kislovodsk, Russian SFSR
Died 3 August 2008 (aged 89)
Moscow, Russia
Occupation Novelist, soldier, teacher
Ethnicity Russian, Ukrainian
Citizenship USSR, Russian Federation
Alma mater Rostov State University
Notable work(s) One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The First Circle, The Cancer Ward, The Gulag Archipelago, The Red Wheel
Notable award(s) Nobel Prize in Literature
Templeton Prize

Laureate of the International Botev Prize

Spouse(s) Natalia Alekseyevna Reshetovskaya (1940–52; 1957–72)
Natalia Dmitrievna Svetlova (1973–2008)
Children Yermolai Solzhenitsyn (born 1970), Ignat Solzhenitsyn (born 1972), Stepan Solzhenitsyn (born 1973) (all by Natalia Svetlova)

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (play /slʒəˈntsɨn/; Russian: Алекса́ндр Иса́евич Солжени́цын, pronounced [ɐlʲɪˈksandr ɪˈsaɪvʲɪtɕ səlʐɨˈnʲitsɨn]; 11 December 1918 – 3 August 2008)was a writer, who, through his often-suppressed writings, helped to raise global awareness of the gulag, the Soviet Union‘s forced labor camp system from 1918 to 1956 – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, two of his best-known works. Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 but returned to Russia in 1994 after the Soviet system had collapsed.

Andrei Sakharov
Андрей Сахаров

Andrei Sakharov
Born May 21, 1921
Moscow, Russian SFSR
Died December 14, 1989 (aged 68)
Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Residence Moscow, Soviet Russia
Citizenship Soviet Union
Fields Nuclear Physics
Alma mater Moscow State University
Known for Third Idea
Soviet nuclear program
human rights activist
Notable awards Hero of Socialist Labor (1953, 1955, 1962), Stalin Prize (1953), Lenin Prize (1956), Nobel Peace Prize (1975), Elliott Cresson Medal (1985)

Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (Russian: Андре́й Дми́триевич Са́харов; May 21, 1921 – December 14, 1989) was a Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident and human rights activist.

He gained renown as the designer of the Soviet Union’s Third Idea, a codename for Soviet development of thermonuclear weapons. Sakharov was an advocate of civil liberties and civil reforms in the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The Sakharov Prize, which is awarded annually by the European Parliament for people and organizations dedicated to human rights and freedoms, is named in his honor.

Yuri Orlov
Юрий Орлов
Born August 13, 1924
Moscow, USSR
Known for nuclear physicist, dissident, human rights activist.
Notable awards Carter-Menil Human Rights Prize (1986), Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Service (1995), Andrei Sakharov Prize (APS) (2006)

Yuri Feodorovich Orlov (Russian: Юрий Фёдорович Орлов, born August 13, 1924) is Professor of Physics and Government at Cornell University, a prominent nuclear physicist, a former Soviet dissident, and a human rights activist.

During his childhood, in the 1930s, Orlov witnessed the destruction of his home village by Stalinist collectivisation in the USSR.

After World War II he worked at the Moscow Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, from which he was fired in 1956 for his human rights activism. He was sent into “soft exile” in Armenia, where in the early 1970s he led Particle accelerator projects at the Yerevan Physics Institute.

Upon his return to Moscow in 1973 he worked at the Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism and Propagation of Radio Waves in suburban Troitsk, whilst at the same time publicly supporting Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In 1976, to the further displeasure of the authorities, he founded the Moscow Helsinki Group to monitor Soviet adherence to the 1975 Helsinki human rights accords.

In 1977, Orlov was sentenced and incarcerated for almost ten years. In July 1983, the Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky sent a letter asking for the release of Orlov to Austria, but it was intentionally left without an answer .[1]

Orlov was freed in 1986, only to be stripped of his Soviet citizenship and deported to the United States as a part of the exchange for a Soviet spy.

Since December 1986 Orlov has pursued his physics research at Cornell University.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Orlov studies particle accelerator design, beam interaction analysis and quantum mechanics. He has authored numerous research papers, articles on human rights, and an autobiography, Dangerous Thoughts (1991).

In 1995 the American Physical Society awarded him the Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Service.

In 2005 Orlov participated in “They Chose Freedom“, a four-part television documentary on the history of the Soviet dissident movement. In 2005 he was named the first recipient of the 2006 Andrei Sakharov Prize, awarded biennially by the American Physical Society to honor scientists for exceptional work in promoting human rights.[2] .[3]

He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Asia Advisory and Academic Freedom Committees, and member of the Honorary 25th Anniversary Committee, Global Rights


KGB dissident-group infiltration featured agents provocateur 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.

Notable Operations

Former head of Azerbaijan SSR KGB Heydar Aliyev, ex–Azerbaijani President

  • With the Trust Operation, the OGPU successfully deceived some leaders of the right-wing, counter-revolutionary White Guards back to the USSR for execution.
  • NKVD infiltrated and destroyed Trotskyist groups; in 1940, the Spanish agent Ramón Mercader assassinated Leon Trotsky in Mexico City.
Ramón Mercader
Born Jaime Ramón Mercader del Río
7 February 1913
Barcelona, Spain
Died 18 October 1978 (aged 65)
Havana, Cuba
Alias(es) Jacques Mornard, Frank Jacson
Conviction(s) Murder
Penalty 20 years imprisonment
Occupation NKVD agent
Spouse Roquelia Mendoza
Parents Pau Mercader Marina (father)
Eustaquia María Caridad del Río Hernández (mother)

Jaime Ramón Mercader del Río (7 February 1913— 18 October 1978)was a Spanish communist who became famous as the murderer of the Russian Marxist Leon Trotsky in 1940, in Mexico. Declassified archives have shown that he was a Soviet agent.

He served 20 years in Mexican prison for the murder; Joseph Stalin presented him with an Order of Lenin in absentia, and was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union after his release in 1961.

Leon Trotsky
People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the RSFSR
In office
8 November 1917 – 13 March 1918
Premier Vladimir Lenin
Preceded by Mikhail Tereshchenko
Succeeded by Georgy Chicherin
People’s Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs of the Soviet Union
In office
29 August 1919 – 15 January 1925
Premier Vladimir Lenin
Alexey Rykov
Preceded by Lev Kamenev
Succeeded by Mikhail Frunze
President of the Petrograd Soviet
In office
8 October 1917 – 8 November 1917
Personal details
Born Lev (Leiba) Davidovich Bronshtein
7 November 1879
near Yelizavetgrad, Kherson Governorate, Russian Empire
Died 21 August 1940 (aged 60) (assassinated)
Coyoacán, DF, Mexico
Citizenship Soviet
Political party RSDLP, SDPS, Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Left Opposition, IV International
Spouse(s) Aleksandra Sokolovskaya, Natalia Sedova
Religion None (atheist)[1]

Leon Trotsky (Russian: Лев Троцкий, pronounced [ˈlʲef ˈtrot͡skʲɪj] ( listen); 7 November [O.S. 26 October] 1879 – 21 August 1940), born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein,was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army.

Trotsky was initially a supporter of the Menshevik Internationalists faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He joined the Bolsheviks immediately prior to the 1917 October Revolution, and eventually became a leader within the Party. During the early days of the Soviet Union, he served first as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs and later as the founder and commander of the Red Army as People’s Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs. He was a major figure in the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Civil War (1918–20). He was also among the first members of the Politburo.

After leading a failed struggle of the Left Opposition against the policies and rise of Joseph Stalin in the 1920s and the increasing role of bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, Trotsky was successively removed from power, expelled from the Communist Party, deported from the Soviet Union, and assassinated in Mexico on Stalin’s orders. (Most of his family was also killed.) An early advocate of Red Army intervention against European fascism,in the late 1930s, Trotsky opposed Stalin’s non-aggression pact with Adolf Hitler.

As the head of the Fourth International, Trotsky continued in exile in Mexico to oppose the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. He was assassinated in Mexico, by Ramón Mercader, a Spanish-born Soviet agent.Trotsky’s ideas formed the basis of Trotskyism, a major school of Marxist thought that is opposed to the theories of Stalinism. He was one of the few Soviet political figures who were never rehabilitated by the government of Nikita Khrushchev. He was finally rehabilitated in 2001.

KGB favoured active measures (e.g. disinformation), in discrediting the USSR’s enemies.

  • For war-time, KGB had ready sabotage operations arms caches in target countries.

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-cautious, was correct, despite costing him his job at CIA, which he left in 1975.

Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Ames
Born May 26, 1941 (age 71)
River Falls, Wisconsin, United States
Charge(s) 18 U.S.C. § 794(c) (Espionage Act)
Penalty life imprisonment (without parole)
Status Incarcerated
Occupation former CIA officer and analyst and agent for the Soviet Union and later Russia
Spouse Nancy Segebarth(div.)
Rosario Dupuy
Parents Carleton Cecil Ames
Rachel Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Hazen Ames (born May 26, 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, who, in 1994, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. Until the arrest of Robert Hanssen seven years later, Ames compromised more CIA assets than any known Soviet mole in American history.

While spending nine years working in CIA counter-intelligence, he declared an annual income of $60,000 but his plastic spending of up to $30,000 a month funded a lifestyle that included a new Jaguar and a $540,000 house (2011 value: $800,000) paid for in cash.

Robert Hanssen

Robert Hanssen
2001 photo
Born April 18, 1944 (age 68)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Alias(es) Ramon Garcia, Jim Baker, G. Robertson, Graysuit, “B”,
Charge(s) 18 U.S.C. § 794(a) and 794(c) (Espionage Act)
Penalty Life imprisonment (without parole)
Status Incarcerated
Occupation Former FBI agent and spy for the Soviet Union and later Russia
Spouse Bernadette “Bonnie” Wauck Hanssen

Robert Philip Hanssen (born April 18, 1944) is a former American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent who spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the United States for 22 years from 1979 to 2001. As of 2012, he is serving a life sentence at the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado.

Hanssen was arrested on 18 February 2001 at Foxstone Park near his home in Vienna, Virginia, and was charged with selling American secrets to Russia for more than US$1.4 million in cash and diamonds over a 22-year period. On 6 July 2001, he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of espionage in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.He was then sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His activities have been described by the U.S. Department of Justice‘s Commission for the Review of FBI Security Programs as “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history.


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.

August Coup of 1991

On August 18, 1991 the Chairman of the KGB Vladimir Kryuchkov and 7 other Soviet leaders, the State Committee on the State of Emergency, 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 made to seize power. Within two days, by 20 August 1991, the attempted coup collapsed.

Organization of the 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.

The Directorates

Other Units

  • 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:

History of the KGB

Organization Chairman Dates
Cheka–GPU–OGPU Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky 1917–26
OGPU Vyacheslav Rudolfovich Menzhinsky 1926–34
NKVD Genrikh Grigoryevich Yagoda 1934–36
Nikolai Ivanovich Yezhov 1936–38
Lavrenti Pavlovich Beria 1938–41
NKGB Vsevolod Nikolayevich Merkulov 1941 (Feb–Jul)
NKVD Lavrenti Pavlovich Beria 1941–43
NKGB–MGB Vsevolod Nikolayevich Merkulov 1943–46
MGB Viktor Semyonovich Abakumov 1946–51
Semyon Denisovich Ignatyev 1951–53
Lavrenti Pavlovich Beria 1953 (Mar–Jun)
Sergei Nikiforovich Kruglov 1953–54
KGB Ivan Aleksandrovich Serov 1954–58
Aleksandr Nikolayevich Shelepin 1958–61
Vladimir Yefimovich Semichastny 1961–67
Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov 1967–1979
Haydar Aliyev 1979-1982
Vitali Vasilyevich Fedorchuk 1982 (May–Dec)
Viktor Mikhailovich Chebrikov 1982–88
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kryuchkov 1988–91
Vadim Viktorovich Bakatin 1991 (Aug–Nov)


File:Znak5 GPU.GIF

OGPU “1917-1922” (NKVD, KGB) 5 years

File:Znak15 OGPU.GIF

OGPU (NKVG, KGB) 15 years

File:NKVD 1940 honored officer badge.gif

NKVD 1940 honored officer badge

reference to the “Bolshevik” Revolution. Source: “Agentura” site.

File:KGB Symbol.png

Symbol of the KGB. The meaning is: the shield to defend the revolution, the sword to smite it’s foes. “revolution” being in reference to the “Bolshevik” Revolution. Source: “Agentura” site.

File:Kgb 50years 1967.gif

KGB 50years – 1967

File:Kgb 60years 1977.gif

KGB 60years – 1977

File:Kgb 70years 1987.gif

KGB 70years – 1987

File:Kgb member honour 1957.gif

KGB 40years – 1957 – honoured officer

File:Kgb 10years 1927.gif

VCHK/OGPU/KGB 10years – 1927

File:Excellent KGB Border Troop 1st class CCCP.jpg

Breast badge for “Excellent Border Troop” 1st class. Award of the KGB of the USSR. Instituted on 8 April 1969 by KGB order number 53. Awarded to soldiers, sailors, sergeants and petty officers of KGB Border Troops, or to other soldiers urgently enlisted in assisting the Border Troops, for exemplary performance of duties in the protection of the state border of the USSR, skillful actions to apprehend violators of the border, for displaying courage, perseverance, endurance, excellent performance in combat and political training, and for military discipline.

File:Excellent KGB Border Troop 2nd class CCCP.jpg

Breast badge for “Excellent Border Troop” 2nd class. Award of the KGB of the USSR. Instituted on 8 April 1969 by KGB order number 53. Awarded to soldiers, sailors, sergeants and petty officers of KGB Border Troops, or to other soldiers urgently enlisted in assisting the Border Troops, for exemplary performance of duties in the protection of the state border of the USSR, skillful actions to apprehend violators of the border, for displaying courage, perseverance, endurance, excellent performance in combat and political training, and for military discipline


Русский: Знак 70 лет погранвойск КГБ (no English explanation)

File:Знак 70 лет Комсомолу ВЛКСМ ВЧК-КГБ.JPG

Badge 70 years Komsomolu KGB USSR








2 thoughts on “KGB

  1. I do believe all of the ideas you’ve offered for your post.
    They are really convincing and will definitely work.

    Nonetheless, the posts are too short for starters.
    May you please prolong them a little from subsequent time? Thank you
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