Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources, Chapter 9

Title:                      Counterintelligence And Security the USSR

Author:                 Paul W. Blackstock

Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. “Chapter 9: “Counterintelligence And Security: The USSR,” Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co.

LCCN:    74011567

Z6724.I7 B55


Date Updated:  April 27, 2016


In the Soviet Union protection of the government and Communist party and suppression of opposition at home and abroad are traditional defense mechanisms equal in importance to the more conventional armed forces. Secrecy, surveillance, and censorship are essential methods for the conduct of this defense. While counterintelligence and internal security measures may be causing considerable problems and controversy in the United States, there is no question of their strict application in the USSR. The tradition, however, does not date from the revolution but from the days of the tsars. The tsarist security organization, the Okhrana, was responsible for suppression of two generations of Russian revolutionists, who in turn were developing the techniques and methods, and grooming the personnel to staff the new Soviet counterintelligence, security, and intelligence organization after the takeover.

The necessity for strict protective measures against counterrevolution, infiltration, wrecking, sabotage, and subversion was made clear in the months following the revolution by the activities and efforts of Western and Japanese intelligence and counterrevolutionary operations. These early counterrevolutionary battles, which resulted in establishing more firmly the doctrine of suspicion and security followed in the USSR, are described in Deacon’s History of The Russian Secret Service.[1]

Today the civilian Committee for State Security (KGB) is responsible for counterintelligence, security, and intelligence functions, but unlike intelligence, which is performed by other organizations in the USSR, the KGB has counterintelligence and security entirely to itself. The KGB is preeminent as the custodian of the iron curtain , For example, it performs the counterintelligence and security functions for all of the armed forces, at home or deployed outside the Soviet Union. While the KGB is directly responsible to the Council of Ministers, it is equally responsive to the desires and requirements of the party Central Committee—in fact all counterintelligence and intelligence has its focus in the Central Committee. In April 1973 the head of the KGB was made a serving member of the Central Committee, the first to have this position since Beria, Stalin’s security chief. The implications of this move may be that the more extensive international exchanges of personnel of the USSR abroad, detente with the West, increased economic relations with the West and Japan, and internal dissident controversies will not alter the essential counterintelligence and security doctrine although methods may be changed.

Considering the absolute dedication to secrecy in the USSR, there is more in-formation available in the literature regarding the KGB than could reasonably be expected. Most of it, however, is history, but history which traces in detail the evolution of the state security agency from a commission, to a commissariat, to a ministry, to a committee; with mergers and separations from the internal affairs ministry. All of these changes had political significance, but did not fundamentally change the organization, functions, and doctrine. For example, the comprehensive bibliography Soviet Intelligence And Security Services, 1964-70[2] published by the Senate Judiciary’s Internal Security Subcommittee (see chapter 4, section B1), lists 715 titles out of a total of 2,507 in the bibliography under the rubric “State Security.”

In addition to the multitude of names applicable to the same organization, there is another confusing factor regarding the literature on the KGB. In this one agency there are a combination of counterintelligence and internal security functions (some quite unlike any in the West—such as border guards and transportation security), external counterintelligence and positive intelligence and espionage functions, and covert political actions functions. Like the literature on the CIA, it is difficult to find definitive works that sort out and analyze various functions separately. However, a few scholarly works dealing with the subject proper are listed here, along with articles that tend to provide up-to-date insights into functional additions or changes.

  1. BOOKS

Baron, John (1974). KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Agents. Pleasantville, NY: The Reader’s Digest Association.

Conquest, Robert (1968), ed. The Soviet Police System. New York: F. A. Praeger

Copp, DeWitt S. (1968). Incident at Boris Gleb: The Tragedy of Newcomb Mott. Garden City, NY: Doubleday

Deacon, Richard (1972) [pseud .]. A Hlstory of The Russian Secret Service. London, Muller

Deriabin, Piotr (1959) and Frank Gibney. The Secret World. Garden City, NY: Doubleday

Hingley, Ronald (1970, 1971). The Russian Secret Police: Muscovite, Imperial Russian, and Soviet Political Security Operations. New York: Simon & Schuster

Lewytzkyj, Borys (1972). The Uses of Terror: The Soviet Secret Police, 1917-1970. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan

Little, Robert (1969), ed. The Czech Black Book. Prepared by the Institute of History of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. London: Pall Mall P.

Smith, Edward Ellis (1967) and Rudolf Lednicky, collaborator. The Okhrana—the Russian Department of Police; a bibliography. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

Wittlin, Tadeusz (1972). Commissar: The Life and Death of Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria. New York: Macmillan

Wolin, Simon (1957, 1964) and Robert M. Slusser, eds. The Soviet Secret Police. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press


Astrachan, Anthony. “Soviets Hit Telecasts by Satellite.” Washington Post, (13 October 1972, p. A23).

The Soviet ambassador to the United Nations submitted proposals that would limit any possibility that the United States or China would broadcast television programs directly from a satellite into the homes of Soviet citizens. The proposals included the right to jam such telecasts, censor, and even to destroy the relay satellite .

Barron, John. “Russia’s Voices of Dissent.” Reader’s Digest (104, May 1974, pp. 139-43).

Senior editor Barron describes incidents in recent years of KGB efforts to suppress and eliminate dissidents in the USSR and how, in 1969, the KGB added an organizational element, the Fifth Chief Directorate, to enforce ideological conformity. Barron is the author of a recent study [as of 1972]: KGB: The Secret Work Of Soviet Secret Agents[3] (see this chapter, section A).

Burger, Marilyn. “Soviets Halt Jamming of VOA Broadcasts.” Washington Post,(1 September 1973, p. A12).

The article reports that the Soviets had stopped jamming Voice of America, British Broadcasting Corporation, end West German radio transmissions for the first time since the invasion af Czechoslovakia in 1968. Includes some speculation as to the reason for the cessation of the jamming.

Byrnes, Robert F. “Amerlcan Scholars in Russia Soon Learn about the KGB.” New York Times Magazine, (16 November 1969, pp. 84, 87, 102).

A comprehensive and objective analysis of KGB surveillance against graduate students and scholars visiting the Soviet Union from Western and African countries, with examples cited involving those from the United States. The usual charges brought against students and scholars are for espionage, conducting anti-Soviet propaganda, and being “ideological saboteurs,” and there is usually an offer to drop charges if the American will turn informer. The author, a professor of history at Indiana University and once head of the Inter-University Committee, suggests kinds of U. S. activities which tend to strengthen KGB suspicions of “subversive” activity.

Crankshaw, Edward , “Soviet Secret Police Shift to Soft Sell for Undermining West.” Washington Post, 25 December 1967, p. C4.

The British expert on Soviet affairs analyzes the KGB in the light of the present world environment and relaxed international tension. He suggests that the Soviet leadership is forced by the present environment to move away from absolute hostility to the West, but is sure that while the KGB is still dedicated to rigid control and repression in the USSR, some of the methods may have altered. Organizational aspects of the KGB are detailed.

Doder, Dusko. “Kremlin Hounds U.S. Newsmen.” Washington Post, (7 February 1971, p. C4).

A well-developed and objective article on the problems of American correspondents in the Soviet Union—the continual surveillance by the KGB and KGB provocations—and the links newsmen have established with Soviet political dissidents. The Soviet viewpoint regarding the meaning of free press is provided.

Dornberg, John. “In the Soviet Isolation Ward.” Newsweek, (28 December 1970, pp. 25-26).

The article details the secrecy, surveillance, travel restrictions, tapped telephones, bugged apartments, and searches that an American correspondent must put up with from Soviet state security.

Kaiser, Robert G. “Case 24: The KGB’s Drive against Dissidents.” Washington Post, (17 April 1973, pp. A1, A10).

In this lengthy article Moscow correspondent Kaiser summarizes the activities of the KGB operations (Case 24) against Soviet dissidents. Specifically, one objective of Case 24 was to prevent the publication of the dissident activities journal, The Chronicle Of Human Events, which was suppressed early in 1973, but which reappeared again in the spring of 1974.

Kaiser, Robert G. “A Professor vs. the KGB.” Washington Post, (19 May 1974, pp. C1, C4).

The Washington Post’s Moscow correspondent has put together an unusual collection of documents concerning the harassment of Soviet professor of literature Yefim G. Etkind. This harassment is probably because Etkind is a friend to exiled dissident Solzhenitsyn. The article includes an account of a meeting of the Academic Board of Hertzen Teacher’s Training College in Leningrad, which expelled Professor Etkind from his institute and from the Soviet Union of Writers. A copy of the certificate from the KGB used by the board is included. This certificate illustrates the type of surveillance and dossier kept on Soviet citizens.

Seeger, Murray. “Radio Hooligans Bug Soviets.” Washington Post, (31 December 1973, p. A2).

Amateur radio broadcasters transmitting illegally in the USSR are becoming a problem and the focus of extensive police action. In many cases the “radio hooligans” transmit information that contradicts official news broadcasts, or retransmit recordings of foreign shortwave newscasts—two forms of anti-Soviet agitation and propaaganda.

Shabad, Theodore. “Soviet Says B .B.C. Helps Espionage,” New York Times, (17 December 1968, p. 10).

An analysis of an Izvestia counterintelligence and security warning article stating that the British Broadcasting Corporation’s East European Division, which transmits to the USSR and Warsaw Pact countries, collaborates with the British Secret Intelligence Service by broadcasting prearranged musical passages and textual phrases at designated times to enable a British agent to prove his bona fides to a perspective contact or agent recruit.

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. “Solzhenitsyn vs. the KGB.” Time, (27 May 1974, p . 51).

In this first short article since his exile to the West, Solzhenitsyn details hew the KGB forged his handwriting and signature in letters to an emigre organization in Brussels in an apparent attempt to demonstrate his connect ion with anti-Soviet organizations and to establish a case for treason or anti-Soviet propaganda. Examples of Solzhenitsyn’s handwriting and the KGB forgeries are shewn in the article.

“Soviet Is Lifting Cloaks fran Some of Its Spies.” New York Times, (19 January 1969, p. 14).

This article tells of a film showing in Moscow neighborhood movie-houses entitled Off Season, glorifying the exploits of a Soviet intelligence agent working in the West—probably the spy Gordon A. Lonsdale (real name: Konon T. Molodiy). This film is one indication of radical decisions made in 1964 to depart from traditional security policy, to lift the cloak of secrecy from some Soviet espionage activity, and to recognize the work• of specific agents publicly. The glorifying of Richard Sorge, a Soviet intelligence agent operating in Japan prior to World War II, started the trend. He was posthumously awarded a Hero of the Soviet Union; a tanker and a street in Moscow were named after him; and his face was pictured on a four-kopek commemorative postage stamp. Later, Gordon A. Lonsdale was allowed to publish his memoirs, Spy: Twenty Years In The Soviet Secret Service[4], as was Kim Philby My Silent War[5] (both cited in chapter 14, section D3).

[1] Deacon, Richard (1972) [pseud .]. A Hlstory of The Russian Secret Service. London, Muller

[2] Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service (1972-75). Soviet Intelligence And Security Services; A Selected Bibliography of Soviet Publications, With Some Additional Titles From Other Sources. Washington, DC: U.S. Govt. Print. Off.

[3] Baron, John (1974). KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Agents. Pleasantville, NY: The Reader’s Digest Association.

[4] Lonsdale, Gordon (1965). Spy: Twenty Years of Secret Service: Memoirs of Gordon Lonsdale. New York: Hawthorn Books

[5] Philby, Kim (1968). My Silent War: The Soviet Master Spy’s Own Story with an introduction by Graham Greene. London: MacGibbon & Kee

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One Response to Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources, Chapter 9

  1. Pingback: Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations, Part II | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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