|“||There is no such thing as a former KGB man.||„|
|~ Vladimir Putin|
The Committee for State Security (Комите́т Госуда́рственной Безопа́сности) or more commonly known as the KGB was the main intelligence agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until it’s dissolution in 1991.
As a direct successor of preceding agencies such as the Cheka, NKGB, NKVD and MGB, the committee was attached to the Council of Ministers. It was the chief government agency of "union-republican jurisdiction", acting as internal security, intelligence and secret police. Similar agencies were constituted in each of the republics of the Soviet Union aside from Russian SFSR, and consisted of many ministries, state committees and state commissions.
The agency was a military service governed by army laws and regulations, in the same fashion as the Soviet Army or MVD Internal Troops. While most of the KGB archives remain classified, two online documentary sources are available. Its main functions were foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, operative-investigatory activities, guarding the State Border of the USSR, guarding the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Government, organization and ensuring of government communications as well as combating nationalism, dissent, and anti-Soviet activities.
A Time magazine article in 1983 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 was 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 officer).
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 fabrications) 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 as agents provocateurs, who would infiltrate the target group to sow dissension, influence policy, and arrange kidnappings and assassinations.
In 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the KGB was split into the Federal Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation.
After breaking away from Georgia in the early 1990s with Russian help, the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia established its own KGB (keeping this unreformed name). In addition, the Republic of Belarus has also established it's own national security agency, the State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus, the name and acronym of which is identical to the former Soviet KGB.
During the Cold War, the KGB actively sought to combat "ideological subversion" – anti-communist political and religious ideas and the dissidents who promoted them – which was generally dealt with as a matter of national security in discouraging influence of hostile foreign powers. After denouncing Stalinism in his secret speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences in 1956, head of state Nikita Khrushchev lessened suppression of "ideological subversion". As a result, critical literature re-emerged, including the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who was code-named PAUK ("spider") by the KGB. After Khrushchev's deposition in 1964, Leonid Brezhnev reverted the State and KGB to actively harsh suppression; house searches to seize documents and the continual monitoring of dissidents became routine again. To wit, in 1965, such a search-and-seizure operation yielded Solzhenitsyn 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.
In 1967, the campaign of this suppression increased under new KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov. 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 in 1980. The 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.
KGB dissident-group infiltration featured agents provocateurs 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.