by Paul Ratner
standing guard in front of
the KGB building in Moscow,
with a portrait of Vladimir Lenin on it.
(Photo: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Like a combination of the
FBI and CIA with a particularly Russian cleverness and harshness,
the KGB was the main security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954
It's hard to ignore the
specter of the KGB when considering his dealings with the
United States and the rest of the world.
during the years of his KGB training
Leningrad in the mid-1970s.
The agency was at once responsible for internal security and secret policing to squash nationalism and dissent, guarding the USSR's border as well as the Communist Party leadership and the country's government.
It also engaged in
gathering foreign intelligence, investigations, and
counter-intelligence. Despite its reach into civilian life, the KGB
was considered a military service that was governed by army laws.
The details were often taken from the lives of other participants in the plot or from the identities of dead people. The KGB also placed agents in Soviet embassies and consulates, protected by diplomatic immunity.
The spies engaged in
gathering political, economic, and military-strategic information as
well as planting disinformation.
shows the monument of
Soviet Committee for State Security (KGB)
founder Felix Dzerzhinsky, pictured with
the KGB building in the background.
credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Such techniques, known within the KGB as "executive action" or "liquid affairs" (Mokryye Dela), were in practice by the organization both in the USSR and abroad, striking Soviet and foreign citizens.
The CIA even pinned the murder of
Leon Trotsky, the co-founder of the Soviet State, on the KGB.
Some assassinations ended
up recorded as accidents, natural deaths or suicides, according to
The doctors had a hard time figuring out what happened until finding evidence of him being poisoned by a thallium derivative of arsenic and possibly other chemical agents.
Khokhlov himself thought
that he had been poisoned by radio-activated thallium.
standing guard during
Margaret Thatcher's visit to Russia
For instance, in 1961
Bogdan Stashinsky defected to the West and revealed that he had
carried out two assassinations for the KGB, including murdering
Ukrainian emigré writer Lev Rebet in Munich with a poison
KGB Deputy Chairman Vladimir Pirozhkov
reviews the members of the KGB
Special Forces team Alpha.
The KGB campaign involved
setting fire to synagogues and painting swastika signs in public
places while making it seem like the West Germans were responsible.
In 1968, it helped put down the "Prague Spring" period of liberalization in Czechoslovakia. KGB agents prepared the route for the eventual invasion by the Red Army while infiltrating the country disguised as Western tourists.
They were to gain the trust and spy on the people behind the new Czech government, led by Alexander Dubček.
Their goal was to plant subversive evidence that Western intelligence agencies were trying to depose the Communist government of Czechoslovakia. This, in turn, would justify the invasion by the USSR.
The KGB also prepared
pro-USSR members of the Czech communist party who would take over
power after the Red Army's invasion.
KGB special operative Igor Morozov (left)
atop an armored vehicle during his assignment
to the Badakhshan province, Afghanistan.
In December of 1979, 54 members of the KGB Special Forces along with paratroopers and other soldiers managed to attack and kill the Afghan President Hafizullah Amin and 100-150 of his personal guards.
This allowed the Soviets to install Babrak Karmal as Amin's successor.
The failure of the coup resulted in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the effective end of the KGB, which was replaced by the Federal Counterintelligence Service of Russia (FSK).
FSK was then succeeded by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).
Almost every branch of the Russian state and many big businesses have been taken over by former KGB men like Putin, reported Politico.
Also of note are the tactics used by current Russian intelligence agencies like the recent poisonings in the UK that utilized the nerve agent Novichok on the former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal, his daughter Yulia, and British citizens Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess (who died).
Such events provide
evidence that KGB methods have not been completely retired and will
continue to reappear in modern international politics...