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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Mitrokhin Archive

The Mitrokhin Archive consists of summarized notes taken by Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin, a former KGB archivist who defected to the United Kingdom after the fall of the Soviet Union. Primarily, this collection contains items from his "Chekist Anthology," which covers activities of the secret Soviet organization Cheka in places such as Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, and Egypt. For more context, please read the "Note on Sources" and biography of Mitrokhin below, all of which should be read before any other documents. See also Intelligence Operations in the Cold War and the Vassiliev Notebooks. (Image, Mitrokhin)

  • 2004

    Biography of Vasili Mitrokhin

    Short biography of Vasilii Mitrokhin, which provides context for the materials in the Mitrokhin Archive collection.

  • 2004

    The Mitrokin Archive - A Note on Sources

    A note on sources contextualizing the Mitrokhin Archive. Please read this first in order to understand the nature of the material.

  • April, 2004

    STASI German/Russian Lexicon of Intelligence Terms Introduction

    This compact German-Russian dictionary came to light in 1967. The dictionary is anonymous: it has no indication of title, authorship, publisher, place and date of publication - there are no indications at all. On reading through it, it is clear that it contains Cheka terminology, and was compiled after 1954. When translated into Russian, these terms were to assist operational officers working in the USSR KGB Establishment attached to the GDR MfS [Ministerium für Staatssicherheit] - helping them to read secret German-language materials supplied in great quantities by the GDR MfS [2], sent on to the Centre with a cover note, and to carry on conversations on Chekist themes with their German colleagues.

  • April, 2004

    KGB Active Measures in Southwest Asia in 1980-82

    Materials provided by former KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin to CWIHP, following the publication of the Working Paper No. 40, "The KGB in Afghanistan." As with all Mitrokhin’s notes, his compilation on Soviet “active measures” in South and Southwest Asia is based on other smuggled-out notes and was prepared especially for CWIHP. Please read the Notes on Sources for information on the nature and limitations of these documents.

  • June, 2007

    The Komsomol meeting. Folder 47. The Chekist Anthology.

    In this note Mitrokhin describes events which took place at Moscow State University (MGU) in November 1956. Three students from the faculty of geography, Varuschenko, Nedobezhkin and Nosov, openly criticized actions of the Central Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League (Komsomol). According to Mitrokhin, they claimed that the committee did not represent the youth’s interests, that the leaders of Komsomol were corrupted by the Communist Party, and that there was an absence of activities. The students stated that the Central Committee required fundamental reform in order to keep students united and active in political life. According to Mitrokhin, most students from all MGU faculties agreed with the statements made by the activists from the faculty of geography. They demanded to elect Varuschenko to the executive board of the Central Committee and also proposed to organize an independent organization to discuss issues that concerned most youths. That month Varuschenko was elected to the Central Committee and the Independent Club of Geographers was founded. Mitrokhin states that the KGB was extremely concerned about these circumstances. The administration feared that they had lost control over the youth. The KGB stated that the reason for this opposition was foreign propaganda brought to the Soviet Union by foreign students. As a result, the KGB quickly disbanded the new club and the new executive board of the Central Committee. Varuschenko was expelled from the university.

  • June, 2007

    The Ginzburg's Case. Folder 48. The Chekist Anthology.

    In this folder Mitrokhin specifically focuses on Alexander Ginsburg’s anti-Soviet activities in the 1970s. The note recounts that Ginsburg was a repeat offender for promoting opposition to the Soviet regime and the head of the Russian Social Fund and Solzhenitsyn Fund. His position allowed him to receive financial and material aid from different foreign institutions–something that was prohibited by Soviet law. Ginsburg had been supplying these funds to many organizations promoting anti-socialist propaganda (including Ukrainian nationalist clubs, Jewish extremists, and Orthodox activists). According to Mitrokhin, Ginsburg received 270,000 rubles of foreign aid in the 1970s. Mitrokhin reports that the KGB believed that in 1976 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ordered Ginsburg to unite all anti-Soviet adherents to actively and publicly support the Helsinki Accords. He also had been passing on important information about major anti-Soviet activities held in the Soviet Union to American correspondents Thomas Kent, Alfred Short, and others. As Mitrokhin reports, in 1979 the CIA exchanged Ginsburg for two Soviet spies. After the exchange, Alexander Ginzburg was tried, but was not convicted because all witnesses refused to give evidence.

  • June, 2007

    On Human Rights. Folder 51. The Chekist Anthology.

    Outlines the KGB’s response to the USSR’s signing of the Helsinki Accords in 1975. The accords obligated signatories to respect their citizens’ human rights. This gave Soviet dissidents and westerners leverage in demanding that the USSR end persecution on the basis of religious or political beliefs. Some of the KGB’s active measures included the establishment of a charitable fund dedicated to helping victims of imperialism and capitalism, and the fabrication of a letter from a Ukrainian group to FRG President Walter Scheel describing human rights violations in West Germany. The document also mentions that the Soviet Ministry of Defense obtained an outline of the various European powers’ positions on human rights issues as presented at the March 1977 meeting of the European Economic Community in London from the Italian Foreign Ministry. The KGB also initiated Operation “Raskol” [“Schism”], which ran between 1977 and 1980. This operation included active measures to discredit Soviet dissidents Andrei Sakharov, Yelena Bonner, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, measures designed to drive a wedge between the US and its democratic allies, and measures intended to convince the US government that continued support for the dissident movement did nothing to harm the position of the USSR.

  • June, 2007

    Once More about Radio Liberty. Folder 66. The Chekist Anthology.

    Contains information on KGB active measures to undermine the activities and credibility of Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, and Voice of America during the mid 1970’s and early 1980’s. In one operation, personally authorized by KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov, the Spanish journal “Arriba” and 42 other Spanish journals published articles stating that Radio Liberty broadcasts into the USSR violated the Helsinki Accords because they impinged upon Soviet sovereignty, and were contrary to Spanish national interests. Following this activity, the Spanish leadership decided not to extend its agreement with the US which allowed Radio Liberty to broadcast from Spain. During a 1976 operation, an East German agent who worked as an international lawyer spread disinformation about Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty’s ‘illegal’ activities in 35 foreign embassies in Vienna. In October 1977, the KGB sent letters to a variety of Western news outlets, including the Washington Post, claiming to be from a group of Radio Free Europe employees. These letters were directed specifically at US Senators Edward Kennedy, Charles Percy, and Frank Church, and Representatives Edward Derwinsky, Clement Zablocky, Herman Badillo, and Berkley Bedell. In 1981, with the help of the journal “Pravda,” the KGB exposed the role of Radio Liberty in the ‘events’ in Poland.

  • June, 2007

    KGB Practices. Folder 70. The Chekist Anthology.

    This entry contains brief descriptions of a variety of KGB operations carried out between the early 1960’s and late 1970’s, and provides a sampling of the kinds of operations that were common in that era. Operation “Grom” [“Thunder”] involved fabricating a US State Department memo on Soviet citizens’ inclination towards treason. The memo discussed ways in which the US could exploit this tendency to its advantage. It was published on the front page of the British newspaper “Daily Express.” A pamphlet created by the KGB and attributed to the terrorist organization ‘BAS’ (South Tyrolean Liberation Committee) was introduced as evidence in the trial of BAS leader Norbert Burger in Austria. In July 1976 the KGB residency in Singapore spied on Chess Grandmaster Boris Spassky during his visit to Singapore, and noted in its report that he spent much of his free time on the tennis court. The KGB created and disseminated a letter, ostensibly from nationalist Ukrainian emigrants, protesting the French government’s cooperation with Zionists, and threatening reprisals against French Zionists. The KGB residency in Austria organized operation “Bonga” [“Bigwig”] in which forged letters from Chairman Mao were produced. These letters indicated that Mao himself had essentially organized the opposition to Hua Guofeng’s reforms, and that Hua might lead China to a revisionist course. In March 1977, the newspaper of the Austrian Communist Party printed a translation of a secret Chilean document in which the Chilean secret police asked Gen. Augusto Pinochet for additional funds to carry out undercover operations abroad. Pinochet’s reply contained a harsh rebuke for the request, and a strong admonishment against engaging in clandestine operations abroad. Mitrokhin did not mention where the document came from, nor did he state whether it was authentic or a forgery.

  • June, 2007

    Counter-Intelligence Protection, 1971. Folder 97. The Chekist Anthology.

    Information on KGB counter-intelligence surveillance of Soviet tourists vacationing in other socialist countries who had contact with foreigners. The document states that Western intelligence services organized “friendship meetings” through tourist firms to meet Soviet citizens, gauge their loyalty to the USSR, and obtain political, economic, and military intelligence. KGB counter-intelligence paid particular attention to Soviet citizens who were absent from their groups, took side trips to different cities or regions, made telephone calls to foreigners, or engaged in “ideologically harmful” conversations in the presence of foreigners. Mirokhin regrets that the KGB underestimated the strengths and methodology of Western intelligence services. He concludes that the KGB should have adopted some of the same methods, and targeted Western tourists visiting socialist countries.

  • June, 2007

    By way of introduction. Folder 5. The Chekist Anthology.

    Contains Vasili Rozanov’s brief personal observations of the first years of Lenin’s regime. Rozanov, Russian writer and philosopher, describes the creation of the early police agencies that emerged between 1917 and 1918. Among the first military and police institutions set up across Russian cities by Lenin’s Bolshevik government were the Military-Revolutionary Committee (Vojenno-revolutsyonnyj komitet, VRK) and the Union of People’s Commissioners (Sovet Narodnyh Komisarov, SNK). These agencies aimed to bring anti-Soviet newspapers and publications under government control. All bourgeois and Menshevik publications were to be shut down. On 20 December 1918, the SNK established a special commission entitled the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission (Vserossiyskaya chrezvychajnaya komissiya). The commission’s core function was to combat counterrevolution and sabotage. Mitrokhin quotes Rozanov as having written that every new recruit of the Extraordinary Commission had to “disavow one’s own will and be subordinate to duty alone.” Lenin’s policy was to achieve unconditional and unquestioning obedience so that no decision could be taken without directives from the Party. According to Mitrokhin, Rozanov also indicates that in 1921 Lenin viewed freedom of speech as a political tool of bourgeois. In 1922, during the drafting of the Penal Code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Lenin advised Kurskiy, RSFSR Justice Commissioner (Narkom justisyj), to impose the highest degree of punishment for involvement in propaganda and agitation. Lenin sought to avoid the mistakes of the Paris Commune, which, he believed, had closed down bourgeois newspapers too late. Written by Rozanov in 1919, this personal account begins with a literary introduction that depicts the first years of Lenin’s regime as an “iron curtain descending upon Russian History.”

  • June, 2007

    Aleksandr Antonov, 1917-1921 case. Folder 7. The Chekist Anthology.

    Contains a detailed account of the Tambov Province peasant revolt. The article narrowly focuses on the causes of the revolt, Aleksandr Antonov’s biography, and the NKVD efforts to suppress the revolt. In 1919-1921, a forced systematic collection of peasant food and supplies coupled with high taxes contributed to an atmosphere of unrest in Tambov Province. Together with several followers, Aleksandr Antonov launched a resistance movement directed against Bolshevism. In 1919, Antonov trained 150 men in the art of war and the number of followers grew rapidly since then. Having penetrated Antonov’s inner circle and arrested some of the key figures of the organized resistance movement in Tambov, the NKVD eventually put down the revolt.

  • June, 2007

    Operation "LES" (The Forest). The 1940-50 MGB Operation Against Moldavian "Freedom Party." Folder 8. The Chekist Anthology.

    In the post-WWII period there were approximately 30 active anti-Soviet organizations in Moldova. Operation “LES” aimed at the elimination of the “Freedom Party” that existed from 1949 until 1950. “Freedom Party” was established in May 1949 by brothers Istratiy and Viktor Andreev. It was divided into separate cells of five members. Each member created their own cell, and each cell had its own leader. The organization networked with nationalist groups throughout Moldova and western Ukraine, where it often purchased ammunition and enlisted nationalist-minded partisans. According to its charter, the core function of the “Freedom Party” was to restore people’s freedom and guarantee the return of monarchy. By 1950, the operation “LES” involved more than 20 KGB agents. Agents “Moriak,” (Sailor) “Busuioc,” (Basil) and “Vernyj” (Trustworthy) were among the KGB’s main informants. At the time of their arrest on 5 June 1950, the anti-Soviet formation “Freedom Party” had 33 members.

  • June, 2007

    The Solzhenitsyn Case. Folder 40. The Chekist Anthology

    In this entry Mitrokhin states that in 1974 the KGB prepared a plan to repress Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s anti-soviet activities in the West. The plan emphasized the importance of separating Solzhenitsyn from his supporters as well as using their testimony from interrogations against Solzhenitsyn. KGB chief Yuri Andropov approved this plan on September 19, 1974. Mitrokhin provides two pages of the signed plan in this entry, where Solzhenitsyn’s code-name was “Spider.” In 1975 the KGB prepared a more detailed and specific plan to take Solzhenitsyn’s activities under control. It was also crucially important to control the context of “The Continent” magazine. The plan called for KGB agents in the West to publish provocative materials about Solzhenitsyn that would give the impression that he was an undercover agent for the KGB. The plan was prepared by the First, the Second, and the Fifth Chief Directorates of the KGB. The plan is provided by Mitrokhin in the entry. In 1978, when Solzhenitsyn delivered his speech at Harvard University, the KGB was very pleased with its turnout and used it against him in his further anti-socialist activities. Representatives of the KGB in the Soviet Union and the Ministry for State Security of East Germany prepared operation “Vampire – 1.” This operation was focused on publishing many materials about “Spider” that would put him in a compromising position in the West. In 1978 “Neue Politik,” a western German magazine, published an article “Confessions of an agent “Vetrov,” also known as Solzhenitsyn” stating that Solzhenitsyn had been an active KGB undercover agent. This article was published in major magazines and newspapers in many Western countries. Mitrokhin states that this provocative publication almost ended Solzhenitsyn’s career.

  • June, 2007

    The Pathfinders (the Sinyavsky-Daniel show trial. Folder 41. The Chekist Anthology

    In this case Mitrokhin provides a history of the Sinyavsky-Daniel show trial. Between 1959 and 1962 two unknown Russian authors (pseudonyms Tertz and Arzhak) published two anti-soviet books, “This is Moscow Speaking” and “The Trial Begins,” in Western countries. The KGB was not familiar with the authors and did not know where they lived. According to Mitrokhin, KGB agent “Efimov” discovered that a litterateur from Moscow, Yuliy Daniel, had some anti-soviet materials. In the beginning of 1964 the analysis of all available information proved that Daniel was the author of “This is Moscow Speaking” and that his pseudonym was Arzhak. It was soon discovered that Tertz, whose real name was Sinyavsky, was Arzhak’s close friend. The KGB began a new operation “The Imitators,” which helped to learn about their connections abroad, new works in progress, places where authors kept their original writings as well as the means they used to send their literature to the West. Mitrokhin states that KGB agents had difficulties working because Sinyavsky once was an agent for the KGB, so he was familiar with all of the techniques. In September 1965, after the KGB collected all of the necessary information, a criminal case was opened. Sinyavsky and Daniel were arrested. Mitrokhin provides details of the investigation process. In February 1966 the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union sentenced “the imitators.” Sinyavsky was sentenced to seven years in jail and Daniel was sentenced to five. After Sinyavsky served his time, he moved to France with his wife where he became well respected among immigrants. According to Mitrokhin, however, later on he lost that respect because he published a provocative book A Walk with Pushkin. Mitrokhin states that the KGB kept monitoring Sinyavsky’s activities throughout his career in France.

  • June, 2007

    Around the Nomination (The Case of Orlov). Folder 42. The Chekist Anthology

    In this folder Mitrokhin expresses the KGB’s concerns regarding the potential for Yuri Orlov’s nomination for a Nobel Prize. Orlov was well known in the Soviet Union for his dissident activities and for organizing the Moscow Helsinki Group to monitor Soviet adherence to the 1975 Helsinki Accords. According to Mitrokhin, he openly supported all anti-soviet groups and organized public protests for the Soviet human rights movement. As the KGB was concerned, they made many efforts to take the movement under control, but these did not lead to success. Mitrokhin provides examples of the KGB’s attempts to stop Orlov’s activism. Mitrokhin states that the West, however, was in extreme support of Orlov’s ideology. In order to help his movement to gain more influence, Western officials nominated Orlov for the Nobel Prize in 1978. The KGB immediately developed a complex plan to assure Nobel officials that Orlov did not deserve the prize and that it would have been unfavorable for the prestige of the Nobel Prize if Orlov was awarded it. Mitrokhin states that KGB chief Yuri Andropov took control over the operation because Orlov winning the prize would have been crucially harmful for the Soviet political system. Mitrokhin provides the detailed plan in this entry. A KGB resident in Oslo sent an urgent telegram to Moscow on October 27, 1978 stating that Anwar El Sadat and Menachem Begin became laureates of the Nobel Peace prize. Mitrokhin provides full telegram text in this entry and also states that the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his satisfaction with the fact that Orlov did not win the prize because it would have negatively affected relations between the two countries.

  • June, 2007

    The Tanov Case. Folder 43. The Chekist Anthology.

    In this entry Mitrokhin describes the essential role that the KGB agent Tanov played in repressing the dissident movement in the Soviet Union in the late 1960s. Mitrokhin states that Tanov had important connections and was a trusted person among Soviet dissidents which helped him to receive important information about their activities. Tanov’s primary target was Orlova who was friends with many dissidents in the U.S.S.R. and in the West. She introduced Tanov to many of her acquaintances, which helped him to broaden his connections. Mitrokhin partially focuses on describing how Tanov gained trust among anti-soviet activists. Mitrokhin also states that because of Tanov’s critical role, the KGB was able to establish a detailed list of dissidents, their activities, connections, places where they met as well as personal portraits

  • June, 2007

    "The Kontinent" magazine. Folder 45. The Chekist Anthology.

    In this folder Mitrokhin provides the KGB plan to limit the influence of “The Kontinent” magazine on the dissidents’ movement in the West and in the Soviet Union.

  • June, 2007

    The Logician (The Zinoviev’s Case). Folder 46. The Chekist Anthology.

    In this short entry, Mitrokhin claims that the Fifth Chief Directorate of the KGB handled the case of Alexander Zinoviev. Zinoviev was an author of anti-soviet books, including "Yawning Heights" and "Bright Future." Mitrokhin states that Zinoviev was stripped of his Doctorate of Philosophy and also expelled from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for his anti-socialist publications. His KGB code-name was “Logician.” In November, 1978 the KGB residency in Bonn was ordered to monitor Zinoviev’s activities after he immigrated there.

  • June, 2007

    Practicing Psychiatry for Political Purposes. Folder 28. The Chekist Anthology.

    According to Mitrokhin, psychiatry was used against people who promoted anti-socialist ideology. Mitrokhin provides the cases of Eugene Nikolaev and Vladimir Borisov who were forced to stay in psychiatric hospitals for their “incorrect political beliefs.” Nikolaev later wrote a book "The Betrayal of Hippocrates" where he described all of the methods used by doctors to change his views opposing the Soviet system. Mitrokhin reports that in 1975 the KGB became aware of the negative stands of the West on dissidents’ psychiatric treatment in the Soviet Union. They stated that Soviet policies neglected human rights. In December of the same year, the KGB prepared a plan, a copy of which is provided by Mitrokhin in the note, to eliminate the anti-soviet campaign that discredited the practice of psychiatry for political purposes. The KGB’s goal was to create the illusion that psychiatry was only used for legitimate medical reasons. The KGB officials started intensively expanding relations between foreign and Soviet doctors, organized numerous conferences and symposiums, and created an exchange program for neurologists in order to reach their goal. “Professor,” a trusted agent of the KGB, was ordered to collect materials about the abuse of psychiatry in capitalistic countries.