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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 30, 1987

EAST GERMAN MINISTRY FOR STATE SECURITY, 'CONSULTATIONS WITH KGB 21-24 APRIL 1987, ABOUT ETHIOPIAN CONSULTATION'

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    Discusses the KGB’s opinion of Mengistu, the level of support for the Ethiopian intelligence services, and the difficulties the Soviets experienced in dealing with their Ethiopian counterparts within specific fields of state security.
    "East German Ministry for State Security, 'Consultations with KGB 21-24 April 1987, About Ethiopian Consultation'," April 30, 1987, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Die Behörde des Bundesbeauftragten für die Stasi-Unterlagen (BStU) [Berlin], MfS ZAIG 5115, ss. 89-93. Obtained and translated by Radoslav Yordanov. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/134782
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Berlin, 30 April 1987 

Consultations with KGB    21-24 April 1987

About Ethiopia Consultation

Comrade General Major Gurgenov, Head of the 20th Department

Comrade Gurgenov has approved Comrade Colonel Fiedler's assessment of the internal political situation, based on the information available to us. Agreement also exists on the assessment of the increased counter-revolutionary activities, which have extended to large parts of the country.

1. Comrade Gurgenov informed on the situation in the Ethiopian leadership and Mengistu’s role:

The differentiation process in the Ethiopian leadership is far from a critical. Mengistu has a strong control over the situation and can fully rely on the Ministry for State and Public Security (MfSÖS).

Mengistu is the decisive figure for the revolution. From this point of view, the role of the avant-garde party must also be properly assessed, and there is no illusions that Mengistu needs the importance of the constitution, the party, and the government to ensure the functioning of the state. It remains an authoritarian state and Mengistu is not necessarily considered a democrat. He is flexible in the pursuit of his goals, hard and consistent on important issues. He is not burdened with intellectual complexes. If necessary, he is ready to use a weapon.

Mengistu enjoys the appreciation of the Soviet leadership. He is considered a quiet, clear-minded, consistent man (not a Gaddafi), he does not try to solve the many complex problems of the country. His anti-imperialist positions are well founded.

He supports Soviet policies on important international questions and meets the foreign policy objectives of the socialist countries.

There are differences between the USSR and Ethiopia on the definition of the developments within Sudan, in particular as regards to the exploitation of the changes there and the possibilities for the development of relations.

In order to understand the taken position and the corresponding political decisions, one must understand the Ethiopian philosophy (from the emperor to the present day - Ethiopia above all).

2. On the cooperation between the KGB and MfSÖS:

The cooperation has been developed in all important areas and involves the use of consultants, material technical assistance, the exchange of political and operational information.

The KGB representation in Ethiopia is comprised of 10 comrades (1 leader, 1 reconnaissance adviser, 1 defense adviser, 1 military adviser, 1 technical adviser, 1 news adviser, 2 interpreters, 1 driver, 1 secretary).

Material deliveries (technology, weapons, means of transport) have been carried out to date, worth about RUB 6 million.

The supply of special communications technology for operational use and training is provided. The radio connection between Addis Ababa and the embassy in Moscow was delivered and installed. So far, 400 officers have been trained by the KGB, primarily for military service.

Minister Tesfaye last visited Moscow in January 1986, signing the 1986/87 cooperation protocol, based on the existing 1984 agreement.

Comrade Gurgenov confirmed Comrade Colonel Fiedler's assessment of the experiences in the collaboration with the MfSÖS.

It is to be noted that the Ethiopian MfSÖS is not interested in cooperating with the socialist security forces against the imperialist enemy. This is particularly true of the Ethiopian intelligence, despite the KGB’s continuing presence in it.

The leader of the Ethiopian intelligence, Mogas, accompanied Mengistu during his stay in Moscow in April 1987 (Mengistu - Journey to the PDRK[?] [the original reads ‘KVDR’, not ‘KDVR’]). The KGB suggested a meeting with Mogas, but he did not make use of it. Rumors have been reported to the KGB, according to which, Mogas is an agent of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND). Comrade Gurgenov asked whether we know about Mogas and this rumor.

He was told that we were informed that the BND resident in Addis Ababa was accredited to the Ethiopian intelligence.

The cooperation with the Ethiopian defense is more effective. There is a certain mutual understanding among the responsible leaders about the development of operations against the main imperialist enemy, especially the United States, the Great Britain and France. These operations form at work level, following good personal relations between the KGB representatives and the Ethiopian partners in the MfSÖS. The decisions of the superordinate leaders, including those of the Ministers, are not available.

The development of the cooperation is decisively dependent on the skill, the wisdom and the ability of the representatives/advisers. It makes no sense to ask the partner to do the paper work.

Minister Tesfaye appears as a man standing with one leg in the past and with the other one in the present. He makes every effort to make no mistakes ("do not make a wrong move").

At the moment, there is no precise information whether he will retain the ministerial function in the merger with the Ministry of the Interior (Mfl). The decision is made by Mengistu.

In March 1987, a KGB delegation was received in Ethiopia and held talks on training questions. The Soviet side assured the MfSÖS of the continuation of the training and asked for coordination if, after the opening of the training center established by the Ministry, KGB lecturers were to be deployed.

The short request by the MfSÖS for a delegation, responsible for evaluation and analysis, to the USSR and other socialist fraternal countries was rejected because the issue remained unclear. The KGB representative in Addis Ababa received the instructions to give the MfSÖS the desired guidance in this regard.

The cooperation between the representatives of KGB and the Ethiopian Security Ministry is considered to be very good.

The use of the existing channels for positive influence in order to stimulate the possibilities for operational cooperation must be a common task. It should also be attempted to influence party organization and work in this direction.

The mutual information and coordination of the work with the partner, in particular with partner’s requests, is to be continued.

Comrade Gurgenov notes that the understanding of the issues concerning the security measures for the citizens of the socialist countries, active in Ethiopia, vary widely between the Ethiopian side and the socialist countries.

The cooperation between KGB and the Ethiopian Ministry on this issue is positively assessed and continued.