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Functions and Internal Organization

As a state committee with ministerial status, the KGB operated on the basis of a statute (polozhenie), confirmed by the Council of Ministers, that set forth in legal terms the KGB's powers and duties. Unlike the majority of statutes governing ministerial agencies, the KGB's statute was not published. Nevertheless, Soviet textbooks on administrative law offered useful statements about the KGB's role and functions.

The KGB's tasks were generally defined in official Soviet publications as encompassing four areas: the struggle against foreign spies and agents, the exposure and investigation of political and economic crimes by citizens, the protection of state borders, and the protection of state secrets. In addition, the KGB was charged with a wide range of preventive tasks, which were designed to eliminate the causes of both political and ordinary crimes. In other words, the KGB was tasked with ferreting out potential threats to the state and preventing the development of unorthodox political and social attitudes among the population.

Western estimates of KGB manpower have ranged from 490,000 in 1973 to 700,000 in 1986. There are no published estimates of the KGB budget. Many KGB personnel were institutions to which they were assigned, and the KGB received support and services from the military and other institutions, rendering a meaningful budgetary accounting particularly problematic.

According to the last Soviet Chairman of the KGB, Vladimir Kryuchkov, by August 1991, the total number of KGB servicemen amounted to 490,000, including 220,000 KGB Border Troops and 60,000 KGB Government Communication Troops. About 90,000 KGB personnel worked in the territorial and republic organizations.

The figure cited by Kryuchkov covers the KGB uniformed corps, albeit not completely. For example, Kryuchkov did not mention 3-4 divisions of Soviet Army Airborne Troops (VDV) which were transferred to the KGB functional command by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988.

Notably, Kryuchkov failed to mention the non-uniformed part of the KGB's world, i.e. the enormous army of secret informers (agent - informants), "trustees," "helpers," and other non-staff KGB collaborators. According to KGB insiders this figure reached about 20 million. Over half of KGB personnel (about 220,000) were involved in operative activities with secret informers, where every KGB "case officer" or "controller" had about 20 informants. Thus, the actual number of KGB secret informers could not be less than 4.5-5 million, which constituted 3-4% of the adult population of the Soviet Union.

The KGB was categorically banned from recruiting agent-informers and other types of collaborators from among not only the Party apparatus, but also members of the nomenklatura, i.e. – political appointees who were cadres of the CC CPSU. The former included functionaries of the Communist party and Komsomol from the level of primary organization down to peoples' deputies of all levels and political officers of the Soviet Army. Among the law-enforcement agencies, only the State Procuracy officials and judges were free from KGB surveillance. Remarkably, this regulation was not extended to the rank-and-file Party members, not to mention all other citizens of the Soviet Union.

Official Soviet sources did not discuss the internal structure of the KGB in detail. Nevertheless, some information on KGB organization and functions has been revealed by Soviet defectors and other sources. In 1988 the KGB had five chief directorates and three known (possible another) directorates that were smaller in size and scope than the chief directorates, as well as various other administrative and technical support departments.

The First Chief Directorate (Foreign Operations) was responsible for all foreign operations and intelligence-gathering activities. It was divided into both functional services--training and management of covert agents, intelligence analysis, and collection of political, scientific, and technological intelligence--and geographic departments for different areas of the world. The Directorage included a spetsnaz group formed in August 1981 to conduct external reconnaissance, sabotage, training and security missions, though in practice the unit was particularly active in internal-security actions.

The Second Chief Directorate was responsible for internal political control of Soviet citizens and foreigners residing within the Soviet Union, including both diplomats and tourists. In 1960, when the KGB 4th Board was disbanded the 2nd (counterintelligence) Board was established. It was in charge of “fighting against intelligence and subversive activities carried out by enemy secret services”. The board had four departments, which were engaged in the following: shadowing foreigners arriving in the country; the search for “very dangerous state criminals”; exposing anti-Soviet organisations and groups; and carrying out counterintelligence in border districts and in the surroundings of military objects. Its secondary functions were: searching for writers of anonymous anti-Soviet documents and those who disseminated them; counterintelligence in railway and air transport, the fishing fleet, and the most important industrial entities, research institutions, and civil defence headquarters. It also protected state secrets in state institutions, offices and enterprises, and monitored the employment of candidates to posts with the secret services, and those who dealt with secret documents. It was also engaged in infiltrating secret agents into foreign intelligence services and “émigré centres”, and in gathering and analysing data about the forms and methods of foreign secret services.

The Third Chief Directorate [Armed Forces ]dealt with military counterintelligence and political surveillance of the Soviet armed forces. The Armed Forces Directorate was divided into twelve major departments that oversaw all the various military and paramilitary formations of the Soviet government. Officers from the Directorate were stationed at every echelon of Soviet armed forces down to the company level, in each military district, with every naval group, at each military front. These KGB officers reported through their own chain of command to KGB headquarters.

The Fourth Directorate was first formed when the KGB was established in 1954. The MVD 4th Board and the MVD 5th Department became the KGB 4th Board. First of all, this was an “ideological counterintelligence” structure. The main task of the Board was to expose the nationalist underground and the ties of anti-Soviet sympathisers with “émigré centres”. The Board had four departments, which were tasked with the following: uncovering the partisans’ ties with foreign secret agencies and émigré organisations; shadowing members of parties which existed in independent Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the intelligentsia, and nationally minded Jews, Poles and Belarusians; searching for writers of anonymous anti-Soviet documents; and the direct annihilation of the remaining members of the armed underground. Besides fighting partisans, the staff of the Board uncovered anti-Soviet organisations and disrupted their activities; they also worked among the clergy of various denominations and active believers. The 4th Board terminated its work in 1960. It was the largest KGB branch in the 1950s.

The Fourth Directorate, created by Andropov in September 1981, was resonsible for Transportation Security. Civil aviation, railroads, automobile, sea and river transport, and urban subways were the responsibility of the CPSU CC Department of Transportation and Communications and the KGB Transportation Division (Fourth Directorate). The Fourth (Transportation) Directorate was responsible not only for the security of transportation lines, but for surveillance and recruiting of Soviet and foreign citizens through the channels of Soviet international transport organizations such as the Ministry of the Merchant Marine (Morflot), Aeroflot (the only aviation company in the Soviet Union), and Sovavtotrans (the only national auto cargo company). In this capacity, the hand of the Fourth Directorate reached to points as remote from the USSR as Valparaiso-de-Chili, Capetown, Rotterdam, Vancouver, and Hamburg.

Initially the Fourth Directorate dealt with domestic ideological counterintelligence, and was formally responsible for "the struggle with the anti-Soviet underground, nationalist formations, and hostile elements." In practice, one the anti-soviet underground formations had been suppressed, the Fourth Directorate was effectively responsible for the surveillacne of the intelligentsia. This Fourth Directorate was closed by Shelepin in February 1960, and merged with other counter-intelligence offices into a single Second Chief Directorate.

The Fifth Chief Directorate dealt with internal security. The famous "ideological" 5th administration was the party's shadow. A month after Andropov's appointment as Chairman of the KGB in May 1967, the CC CPSU issued a directive, initiated by Andropov, on the creation of a new Fifth Directorate (FD), which was to be specially targeted to deal with "ideological subversion ." i.e. – all the main forms of open dissidence in the USSR. Establishment of the Fifth Directorate as a kind of political-ideological police was the reaction of the Brezhnev leadership to the emergence of open dissidence and the inability of the Party's ideological apparatus to cope with it. It took up some of the tasks previously handled by the Second Chief Directorate. Compromising dossiers were compiled on everyone. The KGB collected dossiers on the government and security officials, having discovered their ties with the criminal underworld.

The Sixth Directorate , created by Andropov in October 1982, was resonsible for Economic Counterintelligence and Industrial Security. By 1983, the Sixth Departments had been activated within all local KGB organs, whereby 45 bodies had been organized anew and 200 had been reinforced. At the same time. the KGB also extended the list of economic enterprises and individuals subject to its "counterintelligence service [kontrrazvedyvatelnnoe obsluzhivanie]." This later included .practically all economic ministries and bodies involved in international economic and technical-scientific cooperation, about 6,000 enterprises and scientific centers, and tens of thousands of Soviet scientists and specialists.

The Seventh Directorate (Surveillance) handled surveillance, providing personnel and technical equipment to follow and monitor the activities of both foreigners and suspect Soviet citizens. Much of this work was centered in the Moscow and Leningrad areas, where tourists, diplomats, foreign students, and members of the Soviet intelligentsia were concentrated. The Al'fa (Alpha) counterterrorist group was subordinated to Seventh Main Directorate. Alpha was involved in many counterterrorist and internal-security missions since its formation in 1974 and was heavily active in special-operations tasks in Afghanistan.

The Eighth Chief Directorate was responsible for the highly sensitive area of communications. The Communications Directorate was tasked with monitoring foreign communications. The Directorate was also responsible for the cryptological systems used by KGB divisions, the transmission of communications to KGB stations overseas, and the development of secure communication equipment. In the post-Soviet Russian order, teh Director was merged into the Federal Agency for Government Communications & Information (FAPSI)

The Ninth Directorate [Guards Directorate] (later the KGB Protection Service) provided bodyguards for principal Party leaders and their families, and the Kremlin and other major government facilities around the Soviet Union. The Ninth Directorate (Guards) was a 40,000-man uniformed guard force providing bodyguard services to the principal CPSU leaders (and families) and major Soviet government facilities (including nuclear-weapons stocks). It operated the Moscow VIP subway system, and the secure government telephone system linking high-level government and CPSU officers; it became the Federal Protective Service (FPS) under Boris Yeltsin.

The designations Tenth Directorate through Fourteenth Directorate were seemingly not used.

The Fifteenth Directorate was responsible for Security of Government Installations.

The Sixteenth Directorate [former State Communications Department] maintained the telephone and radio systems used by all Soviet government agencies. The Sixteenth Directorate (Communications Interception and SIGINT) — upgraded from Department to Directorate, operated the Soviet Union's government telephone and telegraph systems, thus ensuring successful interception of all communications of interest to the KGB. In the post-Soviet Russian order, teh Director was merged into the Federal Agency for Government Communications & Information (FAPSI)

The Border Troops Directorate protected Soviet land and sea borders. The Border Guards Directorate — 245,000-man border security force dealt with smuggling along the Soviet Union's borders with terrestrial, naval, and air force contingents.

The Operations and Technology Directorate encompasses all the laboratories and scientific research centers for creating bugging, taping, and shooting devices (including Laboratory 12 which developed poisons and manufactured psychotropic substances).

In addition to the various directorates and a special network of training and education establishments, the KGB included a variety of other organizations: a personnel department, a secretariat, a technical support staff, a finance department, an archives, an administration department, and a party committee. Most of these bodies had counterparts within the different directorates.

Party committees, which existed in every Soviet organization, handled political indoctrination of personnel. Heads of party committees arranged regular meetings to discuss party matters and served as liaisons between the party and the KGB at various levels, although party membership was probably universal among KGB employees. At the republic level, KGB organization was probably similar to that of the central KGB, although republic KGBs did not supervise units of the Border Troops, which were administered centrally. Nor did they include functions of the Third Chief Directorate, which was organized primarily along military service lines or by military district. In addition, functions such as communications and foreign espionage may have been administered only in Moscow.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2018 13:08:59 ZULU