Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For other meanings, see KGB (disambiguation).
The Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (or KGB) (Russian: Комите́т Госуда́рственной Безопа́сности; English: Committee for State Security), was the name of the main Soviet Security Agency and intelligence agency, as well as the main secret police agency from March 13, 1954 to November 6, 1991. The KGB's domain was roughly comparable to that of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) combined with the counterintelligence, the internal security division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the security of the Federal Protective Service and the Secret Service.
In March of 1953, Lavrenty Beria united the MVD and MGB into one body, the MVD. Within a year, Beria was executed and the MVD was split up. The reformed MVD retained its internal security (police and law enforcement) functions while the new KGB took on internal and external security functions. The KGB was subordinated to the Council of Ministers. On July 5, 1978 the KGB was renamed the "KGB of the USSR" with the KGB Chairman given a seat on the council.
The KGB was dissolved due to the participation of its chief, Colonel General Vladimir Kryuchkov, in the August 1991 coup attempt designed to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev. He used many of the KGB's resources to aid the coup attempt. Kryuchkov was arrested, and General Vadim Bakatin was appointed Chairman on August 23, 1991 with a mandate to dismantle the KGB. On November 6, 1991 the Russian KGB officially ceased to exist, though its successor organization, the Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, or FSB, is functionally extremely similar to the KGB.
Belarus is the only post-Soviet society where the successor organization continues to be called the KGB. Belarus is also where one of the founders of the KGB, Felix Dzerzhinsky—who was born in a town now within Belarusian territory—remains a national hero.
Some members of the KGB referred to it as "The Committee" while other employees called it the Kontora Grubykh Banditov, that is, the "association of crude bandits."
Tasks and Organization
Its tasks were external espionage, counter-espionage, liquidation of anti-Soviet and counter-revolutionary formations within the USSR, guarding the Borders, and guarding the leaders of the party and state and critical state property. It also investigated and prosecuted those who stole state or socialist property and white collar crimes. Unlike Western intelligence agencies, the KGB was (theoretically) not interested in learning enemy intentions, only their capabilities. Intentions were political decisions based on Marxist theory.
In its espionage role, the KGB was mostly reliant on human intelligence (HUMINT), unlike their western counterparts, who relied far more on imagery intelligence (IMINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT). Using ideological attraction, the Soviets were successful in recruiting a number of high level spies. Most notable are the KGB successes in gathering US atomic secrets, and the Cambridge Five, especially Kim Philby in the UK. This ideological method of conversion failed after the 1956 crushing of the Hungarian uprising. Instead, the KGB was forced to rely on blackmail and bribery for most of its defectors. This still achieved notable successes, such as CIA mole Aldrich Ames and FBI mole Robert Hanssen, but far fewer than earlier.
Paralleling developments at MI5 and the CIA, the KGB has in recent years been commercializing its advanced technologies for use by businesses. Artificial intelligence software which was formerly used to sort and filter signals intelligence has become available through companies such as Autonomy (an MI5 spin-off) and InfoTame (ex-KGB technologists).
Notable KGB Operations
- Alger Hiss is alleged to have been a KGB spy, but there is no hard evidence.
- Robert Hanssen provided the KGB with information on U.S. counterintelligence efforts through his job at the FBI.
- Aldrich Ames was a KGB mole within the CIA.
- Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed by the United States after being convicted of conspiring to steal secrets from the US's atomic programs for the KGB.
James Jesus Angleton, head of CIA counter-intelligence, reportedly lived in deathly fear that the KGB had moles in two key places: CIA counter-intelligence and FBI counter-intelligence. With those two moles in place, the KGB would have control or awareness of all U.S. efforts to catch KGB spies, and could protect their assets by safely redirecting any investigation that came close, or at least provide sufficient warning; also, counter-intelligence had the job of vetting foreign sources of intelligence, so moles in that area were in a position to give a stamp of approval to double agents against the CIA. With the capture of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, it appears that Angleton's fears, deemed paranoid at the time, were well-grounded.
The KGB occasionally conducted assassinations, mainly of defectors. It also often helped the security services of other countries with assassinations; one famous example is the killing of Georgi Markov, in which Bulgarian agents used a KGB-designed umbrella.
- The KGB was a National Intelligence and Security Agency for the Soviet Union and directly controlled the Republic level KGB organizations, However, as Russia was the core of the Soviet Union, the KGB itself was also the Russian republic level KGB. The KGB was directly controlled by the CPSU and generally followed its guidance.
- The Senior staff consisted of a Chairman, one or two First Deputy Chairmen, and four to six Deputy Chairmen.
- the KGB Collegium Consisting of the Chairman, all Deputy Chairmen, certain Directorate Chiefs and one or two Chairmen of Republic level KGB Organizations, undertook key policy decisions.
- The KGB was organized into directorates. Some of the main directorates were:
- The First Chief Directorate (Foreign Operations) was responsible for foreign operations and intelligence-gathering activities.
- The Second Chief Directorate was responsible for internal political control of citizens and foreigners within the Soviet Union.
- The Third Chief Directorate (Armed Forces) controlled military counterintelligence and political surveillance of the armed forces.
- The Fifth Chief Directorate also dealt with internal security. Originally created to combat political dissent, it took up some of the tasks previously handled by the Second Chief Directorate such as religious dissent, monitoring the artistic community, and the censorship of publications.
- The Seventh Directorate (Surveillance) handled surveillance, providing equipment to follow and monitor the activities of both foreigners and Soviet citizens.
- The Eighth Chief Directorate was responsible for communications. It dealt with monitoring foreign communications and was also responsible for the cryptological systems used by KGB divisions, transmission to KGB stations overseas, and the development of communication equipment
- The Ninth Directorate (Guards) a 40,000 person force which provided uniformed guards and close protection (bodyguard) services for principal CPSU leaders and their families, and major government facilities in the Soviet Union, to include nuclear warhead stockpiles. It also operated the VIP subway system in Moscow and the government's secure telephone system which linked high-level government and CPSU officials. It became the Federal Protective Service (FPS) under Boris Yeltsin.
- The Sixteenth Chief Directorate (State Communications)- Upgraded from a department it was responsible for the operation of the USSR's government telephone and telegraph system,
- The Border Guards Directorate this 245,000 person force provided border security and combatted smuggling along the USSR's extensive border. It also deployed large naval and air contingents.
- The KGB also contained the following independent sections or detachments:
- KGB Personnel Department,
- Secretariat of the KGB,
- KGB Technical Support Staff,
- KGB Finance Department,
- KGB Archives,
- Administration Department of the KGB, and
- the CPSU Committee.
- KGB OSNAZ (Special Operations detachments), Alpha Group, Beta Group, and Delfin, Vympel etc, whose exact controls and missions are unclear.
- Kremlin Guard Force - outside the control of the Ninth Guards Directorate. The Kremlin Guard Force provided uniformed guards for the Kremlin itself and bodyguard services to the Presidium, et al. Later became the Presidential Security Service or PSS.
- Active Measures
- History of Soviet espionage
- FSB (the post-Soviet successor organization to the KGB)
- SVR Formerly the First Chief Directorate, now an independent agency.
- FPS/Federal Protective Service Formerly the Ninth (Guards) Directorate
- PSS/Presidential Security Service Formerly the Kremlin Guard Force.
- Numbers station
- World Peace Council
- Chronology of Soviet secret police agencies
- KGB Info from FAS.org
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