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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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  • February 25, 1956

    Khrushchev's Secret Speech, 'On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences,' Delivered at the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    In a secret speech before a closed plenum of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s cult of the personality. In addition, he revealed that Stalin had rounded up thousands of people and sent them into a huge system of political work camps (Gulags). This revelation was met with astonishment by many present for the speech, but helped to break the power that Stalin still held over the country.

  • June 07, 1962

    Warsaw Embassy Appraisal of Current Broadcasting to Poland by Radio Free Europe

    In Dispatch No. 466, the Warsaw Embassy views RFE as “doing an effective job” in broadcasting to Poland

  • February 12, 1984

    Report by Gen. Bryg. Zdzislaw Sarewicz, Chief of Polish Foreign Intelligence on the Use of Paris-Based Polish Bookstore by the CIA-Funded International Literary Center

    Report on George Minden and the International Literary Center (ILC) by chief of Polish intelligence general Zdzislaw Sarewicz, stating that the operation was funded by United States government and the US intelligence service.

  • November 07, 1984

    Report by Agent 'Gerard' on Paris-Based Polish Bookstore and Activities of CIA-Funded International Literacy Center

    Report by a Polish intelligence agent on the International Literary Center (ILC) in Paris which lists the types of Polish people who were given anti-Communist books at the store (number of engineers, architects, intellectuals, etc.)

  • June 15, 1985

    Report by Agent 'Tulon' on New Priorities of Western Anti-Socialist Propaganda

    Report by a Polish intelligence agent on the activities of the International Literacy Center (ILC) to distribute anti-Communist books to Poish youth.

  • November 18, 1989

    Excerpt from Protocol No. 182 of the Meeting of the Politburo CC CPSU, 'On Additional Measures in the Informational Sphere'

    Proposal recommending increased openness, freedom of speech, and the end of restrictions on the press in the Soviet Union, including the free distribution of foreign media.

  • 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

    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

    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

    A novel entitled 'Where is the truth?' Folder 18. The Chekist Anthology.

    Mitrokhin describes how the Novosibirsk KGB Directorate dissuaded a former Gulag inmate from completing a novel based on his prison experiences during 1949-54. Pereverzev had been sent away to a forced labor camp twice. Having completed his prison terms, he returned to Novosibirsk and decided to write his own account of the Soviet reality. According the KGB Directorate, such writings would be readily accepted by bourgeois publishers. They became intent on putting an end to Pereverzev’s literary pursuits The KGB Directorate in Novosibirsk discovered that Pereverzev corresponded with citizens from capitalistic countries, visited the GDR on two occasions, and attended the American exhibition in Novosibirsk entitled “Public education in the USA.” Pereverzev was taken under closer surveillance. Agents “Gorin” and “Sorokin” obtained 1,100 typewritten pages of Pereverzev’s novel that depicted his imprisonment. Agent Sorokin, being a professional writer himself, judged the novel as a composition of high quality. Sorokin, however, was instructed to convince Pereverzev that the style and content of his writing were good-for-nothing. Sorokin pointed out flaws in the composition and advised Pereverzev to consult a publisher and ask for an official review from a respected local journal. The KGB Directorate arranged for both sources to give Pereverzev negative evaluation. Having received criticism from authoritative institutions, he began to despair of his abilities and gave up on finishing the novel.

  • June, 2007

    By the Church Gates. Folder 1. The Chekist Anthology.

    This folder includes information on the arrest of Patriarch Tikhon, 1919 and 1922, and Felix Dzerzhinsky’s minutes of 2 December 1920 meeting asserting exclusive role of the VChK in undermining the Church. The note includes extracts of a 23 February 1922 decree on confiscation of Church treasures, and describes the subsequent liquidation of Bishop Phillipe and Professor Uspenski, the emergence and persecution of the True Orthodox Church and True Orthodox Christians operating underground, and KGB Penetration of the True Orthodox Church’s top leadership during the 1960’s. Efforts to strengthen Orthodox control over Belorussian, Kazakh, and Ukrainian national churches, the February 1975 conference of heads of Warsaw Pact security services and their decision to engage in joint action against the Vatican, the World Council of Churches and other religious institutions in the West, and the KGB’s campaign against underground religious manuscript publishers (samizdat) during 1970’s are discussed. The file contains KGB statistics on religious participation throughout the USSR, and a description of Archbishop Sinod’s, anti-Soviet activities in 1920’s and his support for Hitler during the Great Patriotic War. The notes section includes Mitrokhin’s thoughts on religion in Kievan Russ in 988 and extracts from FCD operations files on Church personalities involved in operations abroad. Includes operational codenames of KGB agents who had infiltrated the True Orthodox Church

  • June, 2007

    Directorate K Memorandum No. 153/838, 21 January 1976. Folder 13. The Chekist Anthology

    The Memorandum No. 153/838 considered problems associated with the dissident movement of the Peoples Workers’ Union (Narodno-trudovoy soyuz, NTS). Vasili Mitrokhin writes that among the primary concerns mentioned in the Memorandum was the execution of complex active measures to aggravate contradictions between the leadership of various NTS groups. The Memorandum instructed operatives to observe relations of the NTS with the publishers of the journal “Continent.” In order to fuel up tensions between the NTS groups, operatives needed to, among other things, find out whether members of the “Continent” received higher payments than members of the NTS. In general, Mitrokhin suggests that the foremost purpose of the Memorandum was to gather disreputable information and undermine activities of the NTS.

  • June, 2007

    Tracking down writers of anonymous letters and leaflets, 1957-74. Folder 14. The Chekist Anthology.

    Vasili Mitrokhin describes investigative methods used during anti-Soviet incidents in Sverdlovsk and Serov. On November 7, 1969 anti-Soviet leaflets were distributed in the city of Sverdlovsk. The KGB collected 60 copies. It was determined that the leaflets were made on a portable typewriter of a foreign make using a standard-format paper. It was also estimated based on the content of the leaflets that the author was approximately 17-20 years old. On April 26, 1970 the anonymous leaflets appeared in the city for the second time. They were printed on the same typewriter, but differed in content. The KGB operatives collected 14 copies. Similarly to the first group of leaflets, they feature a signature of the “Executive body of the party ‘Free Russia’.” On May 1, 1970 identical leaflets were disseminated in the city of Serov. The KGB operatives narrowed down the circle of suspects to 176 students. From local testimonies, they discovered that Uzlov, a student at the Ural Institute of Engineers, had been a member of a youth organization called “Revolutionary Workers’ Party,” which was later renamed to “Free Russia.” Nikolay Shaburov (born 1945) and Victor Pestov (born 1946) were leaders of the “Free Russia.” They designed the text of the leaflets and recruited followers to help distribute the copies. Members of the “Free Russia” were arrested and convicted.

  • June, 2007

    The 'MRAKOBES' [Obscurantist] Case, 1960-61. Folder 15. The Chekist Anthology.

    This report from Vasili Mitrokhin presents evidence of an anonymous writer—“Mrakobes”— who between 1960 and 1961 delivered anti-Soviet letters and caricatures of government and party leaders to foreign embassies and Soviet institutions in Moscow. The letters were written by hand and contained Church Slavic fonts and constructions. They were put in a letter box at different times of the day, in different parts of Moscow. Each set of letters was put in a different letter box. Examination of text, envelopes, and paper demonstrated that the anonymous author was familiar with rare literature, had a good command of musical and church lexicon, and made good use of figures of speech. The author was also estimated to be a middle-age male with education in humanities. From some letters intercepted by the KGB, operatives obtained his fingerprints. They also observed that one letter box was frequented by the anonymous writer more than others. The KGB laid an ambush. The hideout for the operatives was camouflaged as a storage room and a light signal was set up. Several weeks later, on February 5, 1961 “Mrakobes” delivered four letters. A surveillance team identified him as S.F. Petrakov (born 1924). To verify it was the right person, the team wanted to check his fingerprints against the earlier obtained fingerprint. Petrakov was invited to a medical inspection, during which an operative posing as a doctor fingerprinted him with a magnifying glass. Petrakov’s identity was confirmed. He confessed to having produced around 100 anti-Soviet documents that had been mailed by post at various times.

  • June, 2007

    The KGB Directorate of Ryazan Oblast. Folder 17. The Chekist Anthology.

    Mitrokhin observes that having surveyed Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, codenamed “Pauk” (Spider), for a long time, the KGB had sufficient evidence to prosecute him. However, their intention was to debunk his teachings. The KGB Directorate of Ryazan Oblast invited agent “Marina”—Natalia Reshetovskaya— to participate in their actions against Solzhenitsyn. Mitrokhin indicates that Marina went through an intensive course of operative and psychological preparation. The KGB familiarized her with the nature of ideological subversion practiced by security services dealing with Solzhenitsyn. Marina also gained necessary expertise by performing practical tasks, learning the surroundings of Solzhenitsyn, and taking a look at his literary works. Beyond Solzhenitsyn, the KGB Directorate of Ryazan Oblast also oversaw various clubs and organizations attended by intelligentsia that might have had harmful political inclinations. There were several instances of such developments recorded in Ryazan Oblast. In 1967, Belik, teacher at a music school in Ryazan, founded the Olymp Society, whose policy was to combat government censorship. Bigalko, teacher of Russian language at the Pedagogical Institute, started a discussion club called “Disk” that encouraged students to think critically and challenge authority. The KGB Directorate of Ryazan Oblast compiled reports on teachers and representatives of intelligentsia who held anti-Soviet views. Professor Vilensky was one of them. He urged the introduction of another political party, listened to foreign radio programs, and drew comparisons between the Soviet and bourgeois ways of life. Such behavior contributed to an atmosphere of impunity among citizenry, which further encouraged unwanted generalizations.

  • June, 2007

    Solzhenitsyn, Codenamed Pauk [Spider]. Folder 40. The Chekist Anthology.

    This folder contains information about KGB active measures directed at author Alexander Solzhenitsyn following his exile from the Soviet Union in 1974. The operational directives prepared by the KGB’s leadership for 1974 and 1975 are reproduced verbatim. They included plans to limit Solzhenitsyn’s influence in the West, discredit him and the pro-democracy literary journal “Continent” with which he was closely associated, and make his family fear for their personal safety. Many of the specific measures undertaken by the KGB are described in the document. These included televised interviews with men featured in “The Gulag Archipelago” in which they claimed that Solzhenitsyn fabricated or misrepresented their statements to him, the publication of personal letters between Solzhenitsyn and his close male friends which were intended to reveal the “intimacy of their relations,” and the publication of an article claiming that Solzhenitsyn failed to pay his taxes while he resided in Switzerland. The 1978 operation codenamed “Vampire 1” involved planting a news story which suggested that Solzhenitsyn was a KGB spy, and having it reprinted in prominent newspapers and journals throughout Europe and the US. The document concludes with an index of acronyms, people, and codenames mentioned in the folder.

  • June, 2007

    The Telegram "Dogma." Folder 50. The Chekist Anthology

    According to Mitrokhin, in 1979 KGB headquarters sent a telegram to its residencies abroad stating that Soviet intelligentsia, the American embassy in Moscow, and foreign correspondents who were accredited to work in the Soviet Union, had been holding anti-soviet activities. The telegram text, which is provided by Mitrokhin in his entry, states that Kopalev, Chukovskaya, Kornilov, Vladimov, and Vojnovich were expelled from the U.S.S.R. Union of Writers for their anti-socialist publications. However, after this incident they started to gain influence among Soviet writers and many anti-soviet materials were published, which led to publication of the almanac “Metropol.” The American embassy assisted the publication by organizing events with influential intelligentsia of the West who inspired Soviet writers in favor of capitalism. Mitrokhin states that KGB officials ordered all residencies to immediately stop these activities. It was planned to publish provocative materials about all Western supporters of the almanac. KGB residencies in the West were in charge of collecting these materials.

  • June, 2007

    The Case of Zinovyeva and Others, 1972. Folder 23. The Chekist Anthology

    Mitrokhin describes KGB reports on slanderous and politically harmful material disseminated in Kaluga Oblast.

  • June, 2007

    Signs of Anti-Sovietism, 1972. Folder 21. The Chekist Anthology

    On December 25, 1972 Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council granted the KGB authority to issue official warnings. The goal of the warnings was to prevent activities that threatened national security. Mitrokhin’s notes demonstrate that they were not intended as a punishment or penalty. The order of the Presidium provided for the use of the official warnings as a preventative measure.