History of Russian Government Agency The KGB Part 2

About the Russian government agency the KGB, history and information about the organization.



One of these activities is muffling dissent throughout the U.S.S.R., whether it be religious groups wanting to worship more openly, people wanting to emigrate, the small but vocal group of intellectuals making up the Soviet human rights movement, or Western reporters who have gotten too close to one of the dissidents. Tourists are also very closely watched during their visits.

Yuri Andropov, the current head of the KGB, recently remarked that dissidents are the result of "political or ideological aberrations, religious fanaticism, nationalistic quirks, personal failures and resentments . . . and in many cases individual psychological instability." The result of this philosophy is that it is not unusual for KGB agents to ransack the homes of leading dissidents, searching for incriminating evidence, or detain them for long hours of questioning. Many end up in prisons or labor camps, or in "psychiatric" hospitals.

The KGB is also very active in espionage against other countries. It uses many of the same tactics and weapons as the CIA. Even as detente is pursued at the conference table, the KGB continues to incite insurrection, terrorism, and sabotage around the world, including the U.S.

KGB agents use the cover of almost any group or individual allowed to travel abroad, including trade and labor officials, journalists, and diplomats. Soviet embassies around the world are notorious for providing diplomatic cover for KGB agents. Periodically they are expelled from the host countries when their activities are exposed. In 1971 Oleg Lyalin, a minor Russian trade official working in Great Britain, defected to the British, giving them a complete rundown of Soviet intelligence activities in that country. As a result, 105 Russian officials, nearly 20% of the 550 living in Great Britain at the time, were expelled from that country for their espionage activities.

The KGB has had its share of successes. One of the greatest KGB coups involved the penetration of the British Secret Service and the Foreign Office. Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean were two Foreign Office employees who were leaking information to the Russians. When they realized they were suspected of these activities, they defected to Moscow in 1951.

An associate of theirs, Harold "Kim" Philby, was asked to resign from the Foreign Office. Philby, who was educated at Cambridge, as were Burgess and Maclean, and whose father was a friend of Lawrence of Arabia, rose to one of the top spots in British intelligence. He eventually became a British liaison to the CIA, where he was privy to some of the most important American secrets. All this time he was working for the KGB. Philby lost the confidence of his superiors just before he defected to the Soviet Union in 1963.

Another Soviet success was the mission of KGB Col. Rudolf Abel. Abel, a native-born Russian, was infiltrated into the U.S. in 1948. He lived in New York, posing as an artist. In reality, though, he ran a spy network encompassing North America and Central America. Abel was so effective that after his cover was blown in 1957, Allen Dulles, then CIA chief, remarked, "I wish we had a couple like him in Moscow." In 1962 Abel was exchanged to the Russians for downed U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers.

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