The Decline And Fall Of The KGB – Part III

Dear Readers:

We have been working our way through Krutikov’s op-ed and re-tracing the events of 1991 as they pertained to the institution of the KGB (Committee on State Security).  Every nation in the world has an institution such as this one:  An institution which tends to the security of the state, protects its leaders, spies on other people, and fends off threats from other nations.  Yet it seems sometimes that only Russia (or its predecessor) gets reamed out for having such an institution.  As my colleague Lyttenburgh pointed out in his comment yesterday, the Soviet KGB is the paternal ancestor of both the Russian FSB and the Ukrainian SBU (along with a multitude of other national agencies in the post-Soviet space).  Yet the Ukrainian secret police agency is lionized in Westie press — see, they’re fighting against Russians and commie traitors — while the Russian version is excoriated and always made to remember its supposedly diseased roots in the Security Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  The Russian FSB can never be mentioned in Westie press without the accompanying Homeric epitaph:  “Successor to the Soviet KGB”.  Just like Blind Poet Homer could never mention the name of the warrior Achilles without adding the Tourette-like tic:  “Swift-footed…”

KGB of the USSR: Sword and Shield of the Proletarian Dictatorship

And speaking of swift-footed men who waste not a moment of time:

Where we left off yesterday, the new office of the Russian Republican-level KGB was set up in Boris Yeltsin’s White House, and headed by a man named Viktor Ivanenko.  Ivanenko supposedly saved Yeltsin’s bacon during the August 1991 putsch, was then himself fired, for some murky reasons, but went on to become a very wealthy Mall Cop for Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The aborted putsch (desperate Communists and Soviet patriots attempting to turn back what they saw as a “tide of treason” at the highest levels of government, not to mention in cahoots with foreign enemy governments) was put down with a quite high level of violence.  Not Latin-American levels of violence, but still quite high by Russian standards:  Thousands of resistors executed, and many thousands more arrested.  To this day Russians don’t speak very much about this incident in their history.  Partly because the wounds are still fresh, and partly because the relics of the Yeltsin faction still hold leading positions in the government.  (hint hint)  In any case, the putsch and its repression freed the hands of the Yeltsintes to speed up their planned destruction of all Soviet state institutions.  Including the KGB.  And especially the KGB.  Because no self-respecting Pig can hope to rule Animal Farm without the loyal support of the Kennel.

Soviet “Fialka” (M-125) cipher machine

Step #1 was to carve-out the so-called Department 8, which consisted of the cryptographers and the technicians who guaranteed the security of government-level communications.  These guys were truly valuable, and from now on, they worked for the Russian Republican KGB, not the Soviet KGB.  Next, Department 16:  Radio-electronic or signals espionage and its decryption.  These two Departments were merged into a single unit called the Committee of Government Communications.

Things were moving very swift-footedly now:  Between August and September 1991 almost all the internal KGB troops were transferred to the Department of Defense.  This included “Special-Ops” teams and diversionary units who had previously worked as external spies.  Sort of like Soviet James Bond types, I guess.  Who operated abroad and had a license to kill baddies.  These guys now worked for the regular (Russian) army.

August coup: Some people tried to resist the Yeltsinites.

Next, also in September, the carve-out of Department 9 which used to serve as bodyguards to government leaders — in American terms, this would be like the Secret Service.  These guys were switched over to the personal bodyguard of the President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev.  Who was now just an empty figurehead.  He reported to nobody, and nobody reported to him, but he still managed to keep all his vanity titles and have a personal bodyguard.

Around that same time, Department 4 was dissolved.  This was a section of Division “Z” (Defense of the Constitutional Order), which occupied itself with religious affairs.  Similarly Z-5 (“Ideological Issues”) was eliminated entirely.  Which was considered a huge victory for the “democratic” forces.  The democrats hated ideology.  They always considered their own liberal-capitalist ideology to be, not so much an ideology, as simply the naked factual truth accepted by all “normal” nations throughout the world.

But What About The Provinces?

While all these things were going on, one must always keep in mind that the Russian Republic itself, like just the Soviet Union, was patchwork of nationalities, and not just ethnic Russians.  On 5 September the local KGB committees in the various “subjects” of the Russian Republic, were reorganized into the reporting structure of the Russian Republican KGB.  All part of the cunning plan, you see.  (Chechnya was the exception, and that’s a very long story, not to be told here…)

On 9 September a rather odd law was adopted, whereby entities were forbidden to use any “operational-technical” tools to receive information not within the competency of state security organs.  Decoding this ambiguous law:  Signals, cryptography, and all that good stuff was to be the monopoly of the RUSSIAN KGB.   In plain English:  The central (USSR) KGB just had its teeth pulled out.

WWSD? (What would Stirlitz do?)

Next, on 22 October:  the Coup de grâce:  A decree was issued by an organ called the State Council.  This State Council was a temporary “revolutionary” body which did not exist in the Soviet Constitution; therefore its legitimacy was moot, but never mind that — this provisional revolutionary body issued a decree which dissolved the KGB of the USSR.  Putting it out of its misery, I guess you could say.  And on the ashes of this institution, three new institutions were created, namely:  (1) Central Intelligence Service of the USSR; (2) Inter-Republican Security Service; and (3)  Commitee to Protect State Borders.  According to Krutikov, these three thunderous-sounding structures were actually ephemeral fig-leafs, whose sole function was to provide the illusion of legitimate transition.

“I win!”

In the first week of November, the reorgs continued with lightning speed:  Department 7 (Investigations and tracking of criminals) was put under the Russian KGB, along with Lefortovo Prison.  At this point the Soviet KGB was just a toothless and clawless old bear.  It couldn’t investigate or track criminals, it couldn’t arrest people, it couldn’t decrypt signals or practically do anything any more.  A maniac serial killer could probably walk right up to the KGB and dance a naked jig, and they wouldn’t even be able to chase him down the street and through the back yards of people’s houses.  More to the point, the KGB could no longer fight against corrupt schemes or against organized crime.  Both of which phenomena were the wave of the future under the wobbly iron heel of Tsar Boris the Drunk.

The only thing left to the once-mighty Soviet KGB was, like a secret order of monks, to hide in some underground lair and curate the ancient archives.

Next:  Krutikov introduces some new men, talks about some interesting people and events, and speculates why they all did what they did!

[to be continued]

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