The KGB in Soviet Union or the Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti has been out of commission since 1991, but still, it remains as one of the most interesting agencies of all time. Since it was established back in 1954 to succeed agencies namely the MGB, NKGB and Cheka, it became one of the most talked about agencies in the world. It’s also one of the most secretive, and this is why rumors more than facts are spread about it. It’s easy to see why this is the case. After all, the agency is one that has always been clouded by secrecy and confidentiality. Here in this post you will find out what was the KGB in Soviet Union and history of this agency.
About the KGB
KGB is the initials for Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti and is roughly translated to English as Committee for State Security. It served as the primary security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 to 1991. As the primary security agency, it has union-republican jurisdiction and was responsible for providing intelligence, secret police and internal security.
Here are its more specific primary functions:
- International intelligence and counter-intelligence
- Operates and investigates
- Guardians of the USSR’s state border
- Guardians of the leadership of the Soviet Government and Central Committee of the Communist Party
- Organizes and ensures effective and efficient communication across the government
- Combats anything that can be considered as anti-Soviet
Conflicts in its history
Being an agency of spies, it’s understandable that there are a lot of conflicts in its history. Its history featured overly ambitions spy heads. Aleksandr Shelepin, who was then next in line as the chairman of the agency, had to be demoted to become the chairman of the Trade Union Council. Even his protégé, Vladimir Semichastny, was let go as the chairman of the KGB. This was because of Shelepin’s role in the coup d’état against Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
It wasn’t the last coup d’état that featured the KGB. Vladimir Kryuchkov, who served as its chairman from 1988 to 1991, led an attempt against President Mikhail Gorbachev as a reaction against the Soviet society’s glasnost liberalization that happened in the 80s. This proved to be the last hurrah of the agency as the failure of the coup d’état spelled the end for the agency on November 6 of 1991.
After its collapse, two agencies took its place – Foreign Intelligence Service and Federal Security Service. The former provided intelligence related functions while the latter was in charge of security.
KGB in the Cold War
The KGB cemented its legend in the cold war. It was able to recruit mercenaries who served as spies in the technical and scientific fields. The year 1967 proved to be a successful year for the agency as it was able to grab the services of John Anthony Walker who was then the Chief Warrant Officer of the US Navy. With his help, together with his spy ring, the Soviet Union easily deciphered more or less one million correspondences of the US Navy.
Information about the agency today
While some of its archives are available online, most of them are still considered to be classified. This is fitting for one of the most secretive spy agencies of all time – KGB.