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May 25, 1981

Speech by Yu. V. Andropov at the National Consultation Meetings of the Leadership of the Agency and Troops of the KGB of the USSR, 'On the Tasks of the KGB in Light of the Decisions of the 26th Congress of the CPSU'

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)





May 25, 1981




Today will be an unforgettable day in the life of everyone who is present in this audience, and in the lives of all chekists of our country. It will go down in the history of state security agencies as a bright and convincing proof of the party’s nurturing attitude towards its combat unit, its tool in the struggle against the class enemy. The party wants to make sure that we are always at our best when performing challenging tasks, that we are loyal to the party’s and people’s cause.


The fact that the General Secretary of the CPSU’s Central Committee,  L.I.Brezhnev, is participating in our meeting with his warm and moving words, represent to us his approval of the role and place of the state security agencies in the political system of the developed socialist society, and provide a specific program for our work.


Six years have passed since the 1975 National Consultation Meetings of the Leadership of the Agency and Troops of The KGB of the USSR. In this time big and important accomplishments have happened in the lives of the party and the country. The Soviet people successfully completed the 10th five-year-plan. Economy, culture and national wealth achieved a new level of development. The new Constitution, which reflects historic achievements of the developed socialist society, has become an integral part of our lives. Socio-political and ideological cohesion of the society has strengthened even further, the Soviet family of peoples has become even closer.


The 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has become a historic milestone in the lives of the party and the country. It demonstrated the gloriousness of the Soviet people’s achievements, the real-life incorporation of Lenin’s ideas about transformation of the society based on new, communist values. With the party and its Central Committee at the helm, our country is on the infallible Leninist course.


The unanimous approval by the workers of the Congress’ decision, the countrywide labor and political enthusiasm of which, are the proof of the inviolable union between the party and the people. This union represents the most important feature of our social life. It has been and still is the source of enormous power of our soviet society.


As to the Soviet state’s international position during these years: these years have been the years of confrontation between the two types of forces. On one side, the forces who advocate the harnessing of the military arms race and the strengthening of peace and détente, and, on the other side, the forces that are ardently attacking détente, adopting the policy of the arms race and undermining peace, who are prepared to gamble with the vital interests of humankind for their personal gain. The policy of aggressive imperialist forces has resulted in a considerable increase in international tensions and all the dangerous consequences that ensue from it.


Washington and its NATO partners more and more often resort in international relations to the policy of blackmail and crude pressure. They try to impudently force their will on other countries and nations. Imperialist bigwigs put forward adventurist doctrines of either a “limited” nuclear war or a war with the use of only conventional, non-nuclear weapons.


The military threat is exacerbated by the fact that imperialism and Peking are growing closer together. Peking is practicing anti-Soviet policy and is stepping up military preparations hurting the country’s economy and the vital interests of the Chinese people.


The question comes to mind: what is the reason behind the growing aggressiveness of imperialism (American imperialism in the first place)?


The starting point for answering this question should be an accurate, Marxist outlook on the nature and the source of wars and international conflicts, and hence of international tensions, and the understanding that wars and international conflicts are a product of imperialism.


The reason behind the current rise in international tension is the attempt of the imperialists to change the course of events in the international arena for their benefit and to stop the forward movement of history. 


The de-escalation of international tension and its current exacerbated state are links of the same chain – the chain of events in the historic confrontation between socialism and capitalism which started the very day the Soviet state was born.


Imperialists agreed to détente not because they suddenly became “kinder.” They agreed to it in the first place because the Soviet Union’s defense capabilities and the power of the countries of the socialist camp grew unfathomably high. The colonial system crumbled. Heightened activity of the working masses who protested against the aggressive policy of imperialism and the fiasco of the dirty war in Vietnam also played a role..


Détente became possible, also, because the states representing two opposing systems, at a certain point, acquired parallel interests, so to say, the [common] desire to avoid a nuclear catastrophe, to more fully utilize the benefits of  the international division of labor, and to solve vital global issues.


At the same time, the position of imperialists towards détente, by virtue of their nature, has always been and will always be inconsistent. This inconsistency to large extent explains the oscillations and zigzags which are characteristic of the American ruling circles’ foreign policy. The most reactionary imperialist forces, owners of the military-industrial complex, in the first place, are now revisiting their views towards détente. Emergence on the political stage of such an odious person as Reagan is not at all a coincidence. In attempts to find a way out of growing difficulties imperialists are electing, specifically, such arch-reactionists to serve as their front men.


But it’s not that easy to do away with détente. It put down deep roots. Today the USA don’t have the same freedom of its foreign policy manipulations. There is a number of factors which slow down and hold back the current negative trends in the Washington Administration’s policy. Within the US ruling class there are circles that are aware of the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear war. They find it necessary to reach a certain level of accord with the USSR.


The position of a number of Western European countries creates a restraining influence over the aggressive forces in the USA who are trying to further aggravate Soviet-American relations. These countries more acutely feel the threat and realize the possible consequences of a nuclear war on the European continent. They display interest in the continuation of détente and in the development of cooperation with the Soviet Union in many areas.


A wide public response that the new Soviet peace initiatives, stated in the CPSU Central Committee’s Report to the 26th Congress of the Party, have stirred in political and social circles around the world, confirms the correctness of the foreign policy course of our party and the Soviet State. Unfortunately, Washington and NATO do not wish to abandon their attempts to talk to us “from the position of force” and they continue the arms race. This was reflected in the latest Roman session of the NATO Council. 


In the face of the increased aggression of imperialism, the party urges increased vigilance. This is the duty of every communist, of every Soviet person. And even more so, it is the duty of chekists who are assigned to the first line of defense against the enemy.


The Report to the 26th Congress of the CPSU says, “The acuity of the class struggle on the international arena poses high requirements on the activities of the state security agencies, and on the ideological conditioning, knowledge and work style of our chekists. The State Security Committee of the USSR works expeditiously, at a very high professional level, with strict conformance to the Constitution and Soviet law provisions. Watchfully and vigilantly, the chekists track the nefarious activities of imperialist intelligence agencies. They decisively thwart the actions of those who step on the path of anti-state, hostile activities, who encroach on the rights of the Soviet people and on the interests of the Soviet society.”[1]


These warm words bring joy and inspire us. Nevertheless they contain not only a high evaluation of the chekist’s work, but also reflect the opinion of the Central Committee on primary aspects of state security agencies’ work in the current conditions of the atmosphere of heightened international tension.


The issues of improvement of chekists’ work are the subject of our constant attention. We discussed them at the previous meetings, and the directives that were produced then are still relevant today. The present report only touches upon the most pressing issues which result from the most recent state of operations.


What challenges do the chekists face in the face of increased international tension?  What practical measures need to be undertaken based on the political mission placed by the Party Congress on state security agencies? 


The political situation in our country is good. This has a crucial influence on the operational environment. Overall the [operational environment] is favorable for us. At the same time, it is not possible to ignore that the operational environment, being more fluid than the political situation, has become more complicated in a number of areas, and in selected areas it occasionally acquires aggravated nature.


As you know, the operating environment represents a combination of such conditions as the activity of the enemy, our own abilities, and common ground for both sides' social and natural environments. It includes such important components as the objects of the enemy’s aspirations and the groups of people that the enemy is counting on in its covert and subversive operations.


Analysis of the data received recently as a result of counterintelligence operations allows us to make the following conclusions about certain peculiarities of the current operating environment in this country.


First of all, the work of the party and the conditions of moral and ideological cohesiveness of the soviet nation, increased political activity and vigilance of the soviet people, have created the most favorable premises for the work of state security agencies.   


At the same time, the aggravation of international tensions, accompanied by the widening scope and increased onslaught of enemy covert and subversive operations, requires from the chekist agencies maximum utilization of these favorable conditions in the interest of ensuring the security of the Soviet State.     


The enemy operates with the ever-greater impudence and cynicism. It resorts to such extreme forms of subversive activities as terrorism and sabotage. It more and more actively combines collection of intelligence by agents with technical reconnaissance.


The United States and other capitalist countries gather intelligence with the wider use of legal positions, i.e. with the use of diplomats, journalists, and tourists whose flow [into the country] has increased in the recent years. The enemy is trying to gain access to the political, economic and military secrets of the Soviet Union, to our scientific and technical advances, especially to those in the key areas which largely determine the general balance of power between the USSR and the USA, the Warsaw Convention and NATO.  


As to the ideological area, the enemy, having confirmed for itself the fruitlessness of the activities of individual anti-social elements, is now trying to influence wider groups of population with the objective to create so-called “pockets of social agitation” in order to ultimately achieve the “ideological erosion” of the soviet society.  


I would like to talk about one more distinctive characteristic of the operating environment. I mean the enemy’s subversive activities in the economic area. They manifest themselves in attempts to create difficulties in our country’s national economy, to hamper the industry development rates, and to conceal from us the most important results of the scientific and technological revolution. The US government’s decision to impose an embargo on the grain trade and on the trade of some types of modern equipment with the Soviet Union is the most obvious proof of this.


These are the most important features of the current operating environment which we need to take into account when looking at the objectives that the state security agencies have, and specifically the objectives of intelligence and counter-intelligence agencies. I would like to talk more in depth about the work and objectives of specifically these two types of agencies.




Our intelligence service has a lot of experience, draws upon glorious traditions, has at its disposal loyal, well-trained personnel, and is armed with modern technology. It bravely engages the enemy and in a number of areas achieves reasonably good results. But today, we have to think about how to further increase the efficiency of the intelligence service in the face of new, more complex tasks.


The main objective of our intelligence service is not to miss the military preparations of the enemy, its preparations for a nuclear strike, and the real risk of the outbreak of war.


The intelligence service cannot limit itself to reflecting the picture of military preparations of the enemy in general. It has to provide us concrete information about all important details, which are the only way to build a comprehensive picture of the enemy’s real actions.


We have to look at the issue of analytical work of the intelligence services from a new angle. The First Main Directorate receives an enormous amount of information. The flow of information of little importance has to be minimized to make sure that the multitude of materials containing information “about everything” does not obscure issues of primary importance. We have to direct the intelligence services towards mining specifically the type of information which at that particular moment is the most pertinent.


And one more thing, the information has to be accurate, reliable and timely. If these requirements are not adhered to, this lowers the quality of intelligence work.


Gaining access to truly important military and political secrets is impossible without acquiring access to new agent networks and building new trusted connections among people who are directly connected to these secrets. In other words, we have to not just select and recruit agents but select those who could lead us to the targets and sites we are interested in.


Recruiting of a foreigner is a complicated process. It requires high levels of professionalism, the ability to utilize the whole arsenal of chekists’ methods, and it is absolutely imperative that our personnel possess [strong] ideological convictions. It takes brave, persistent and, most importantly, unconditional loyal intelligence agents to complete these tasks.


The current situation poses a special and urgent requirement in working with each of the agents. We need to instill in him the ability to correctly orient himself in the ongoing events and be prepared to take justified risks, to develop in him personal qualities requisite for an intelligence agent and even, to a certain degree, professionalism.


Activities of our intelligence services are directed at achieving the most honorable, humane objectives. On its side is the truth of Marxist-Leninist teachings. This gives our intelligence service a manifold increase in its power and provides it with a powerful ideological weapon in its struggle with the enemy.


This factor also creates a favorable atmosphere for establishing contacts and necessary connections and gaining trust of a foreigner and mutual understanding with him. It is important to utilize these advantages to the fullest extent.


Today, in a situation of heightened international tension and increased political aggressiveness of imperialist states and Peking hegemonists, we say that the intelligence service needs to act in a more pointed, more accurate and faster way. This is the only way it will be able to fulfill its duty.




Counter-intelligence has to reliably protect the security of our country, its defense and economic potential, to take decisive steps against the enemy’s intelligence penetration of state and military secrets. This requires constant improvement of the tactical techniques and methods of combating the enemy’s agent network, their technical reconnaissance and legal intelligence networks, coming up with the most effective ways and methods which would allow us to timely uncover not only the classic moves of the enemy, but all of their newest subterfuges.


It is from these vantage points that we should approach the evaluation of the counter-intelligence activities and identify specific measures for fulfilling the requirements that are contained in the decisions of the 26th Congress of the CPSU.


Life has shown that by implementing directives of the previous consultation meeting, counter-intelligence agents to some extent, increased the level of their work in the key area of combating espionage. Enemy agents, Radzhabov, Kazachkov, Filatov, Nilov, Bumeister, Petrov, Ogorodnik, Kryuchkov, Vagin, Shchedrov and others, have been exposed and neutralized. Personnel of the Second Main Directorate, of the Third and Seventh Directorates, chekists from Leningrad, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Moscow and the Moscow region, have done a great job in this respect.


Experience shows that along with already known forms of espionage, the enemy is trying to utilize more sophisticated means of gathering intelligence and performing other surveillance and subversive activities. Counterintelligence professionals have a lot to think about with this respect, to think and to take steps to further improve the methods of combating the enemy. That being said, primary importance has to be given to tracking down their activities at an early stage, when possible, and not allowing them to get to the sites and secrets that they are interested in. We have to learn to see the enemy, figuratively speaking, at the horizon, and maybe even farther out – behind the horizon.  


Can we really say that today our counter-intelligence offices are prepared to solve the tasks before them at the required level that we discussed above? We would lie to ourselves if we said that everything is one hundred percent in order.


Evaluation of a number of counter-intelligence operations showed that along with certain positive results in the work of chekist agencies, there are serious errors in judgment. Not all agencies have taken a proactive attitude in the search for the enemy’s spies and agents. There are quite a number of heads of counter-intelligence units who are counting on lucky coincidence or on good luck, in their struggle against espionage. This passive attitude, unacceptable at any time, is particularly untenable in current conditions.


Still, little attention is paid to the agent network which plays a crucial role in the operations of the second and third lines. Still, there are a number of operatives, particularly at the leadership level, who avoid direct involvement in the agent selection and recruiting activities. Moreover, there are situations when, due to the creation of district and city offices, some local KGB offices de facto delegate working with agents to them. It is possible, that these comrades do not realize that without daily, direct communication with the sources of intelligence, they can turn from chekists into clerks or paper pushers. Unfortunately, it has become common when young, capable operatives get promoted to leadership positions that they don’t retain the connection with even a part of their agents, but pass them on, so to say, to their heirs. This is what happens: the higher such comrade moves up the career ladder, the more distant he becomes from his work with the agents. This is inadmissible.


At previous meetings the issue of developing a systematic approach in combating the enemy’s intelligence agents was raised. I have to say that when it was just conceived, this method looked very promising and not without merit. However, as life has shown, not all offices and units were prepared to adopt this system, and they sometimes implemented it without taking into consideration the specific operating environment, and therefore did not achieve the expected outcomes. This also happened due to the fact that the implementation of the new system of counter-intelligence measures was not very well planned. The units of the central directorate were late switching from promoting the systematic approach to providing practical assistance to the local offices in applying it in each specific area of operations.


By analyzing the enemy’s actions we come to the conclusion that it is stepping up its espionage activities and widening its “geography”. But occasionally, even having information about the enemy’s aspirations, we can’t track its agent network, especially its underground agents.


Why is this the case? Why in some areas of our counter-intelligence activities for many years have we not received any concrete results? We should look for the reason in the first place: the fact that we haven’t yet learned to conduct active search and often operate the old-fashioned way.


Active search means artful forecasting of the changes in the operating environment, training and education of agents, training them not to passively wait but to act purposefully. We have to widely use new capabilities of surveillance, direction finders, audio monitoring, radio communications intercept, scientific and technological research and expertise. In a word, utilize all means for exposing spies. This is what searching actively means.


Finally, active search means improving the work of both counter-intelligence and intelligence in the area of embedding agents in the enemy intelligence services and enemy sabotage training centers. This requires comprehensive use of personnel and technology in a targeted, large-scale operation in which many units and offices would be involved. We have to use information and analytical systems wider, and most importantly to plan the work in a comprehensive way both along specific lines and in the state security system as a whole.


We’ve talked a lot about security procedures. Nevertheless this issue requires further discussion today. Why?


We all know that security procedures that are put in place in the interest of safeguarding [classified information] at enterprises and organizations, quite often stir feelings of protest, just like any other restrictive measure would. Let’s say a person wants to have a phone conversation, but the topic of the conversation is sensitive and it is not supposed to be discussed over the phone. But the person, in violation of the protocol, starts to talk in, what he thinks, a roundabout way, making hints that are not quite understandable on the other end of the call, and therefore [the listener] suggests to “hint in a more direct way.” As a result, classified information gets divulged which causes harm to our state.


Not so long ago we obtained a document from one of the western intelligence services which contained transcripts of phone calls made from home phones, pay phones and car phones. I am deeply convinced that if this document was shown to the participants of these conversations, many of them would exclaim in a genuinely surprised way, “Are we really such babblers?”


Another example. At one of Leningrad factories one of the design engineers had an inspiration, so to say, and so he decided to work after hours. As you know, classified documents are supposed to be returned to the classified information department. But this is again a sort of a “security inconvenience.” And, therefore, the documents didn’t end up being returned for safekeeping. As a result, one of the employees of the factory who was in contact with the local CIA station, stole classified materials related to the development of communication technologies, including those in the Armed Forces of the country. To the Leningrad counter-intelligence agents’ credit, I have to say that they very timely intercepted this enemy action.


I could give you a multitude of examples when security procedures were breached.


In our time, when the enemy displays a particular interest in obtaining information related to defense secrets, violating security procedures almost amounts to treason, since cut-and-dry requirements of a security manual are based on specific counter-intelligence barriers.


Some of our comrade-chekists insist that ensuring security is the obligation of the management of the enterprises and of the Federal Technical and Export Control Service (“GosTechComissiya”), and that the chekists don’t need to actively participate in implementing security procedures because it distracts them from working with the agent network. It is well-known that nowadays the enemy obtains information with the use of technical equipment placed in space, by intercepting communication systems, and by detecting radiation from specialized products. Working with the agent network by itself won’t be much help. Strict compliance with security procedures which the management of enterprises and organizations, as well as the command of military units are responsible for in the first place, is absolutely necessary. But the chekist offices are not absolved of the responsibility to exercise control over compliance with the security procedures. That is why we have our personnel at many classified facilities.


In the initial, post-Helsinki, period we have lived through the pressure from the West who was trying to use the agreements in order to pursue its own agenda. We didn’t budge on the crucial issues, but we have loosened the regime in some areas, including that for the diplomats, journalists and tourists visiting from western countries. At that time it was justified and necessary, since the West tied these issues with the general bulk of Helsinki agreements.


Now the situation has changed. We can and we will make certain adjustments to our counter-intelligence activities on this front.


Lately some of the employees of military attaché offices, diplomats and journalists have started displaying disrespect towards our laws and traditions, shamelessly abusing our hospitality. Some tourists and foreign nationals who come on private business or to study, too, have started behaving quite unceremoniously.


Unfortunately, we still occasionally encounter in our society people who incorrectly understand the nature of some of the steps that we have taken pursuant to the Helsinki Accords. They mistakenly perceive these agreements as the weakening of the class struggle. They do not realize that the enemy is trying to use this faulty perception in order to increase their subversive activities.


We should not put up with all of this. The objective of the counter-intelligence community is to fully engage its own capabilities, as well as the capabilities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Intourist, and management of enterprises and organizations, in order to ensure that foreign nationals strictly comply with the regulations governing their stay in our country. We have to make sure that Soviet citizens who have access to state secrets, strictly comply with applicable requirements and conduct themselves in an appropriate manner when traveling abroad.


Operatives who work in the area of ensuring compliance with security procedures and safeguarding classified information, have to always remember that their work in not secondary in nature. In essence, it represents preventive combating of espionage and other types of clandestine activity. That is why it is so important and significant.


Along with ensuring reliable protection of state secrets, counter-intelligence services have to use their resources to support in every possible way the implementation of the economic development program of our country.


With respect to this, I would like to point out certain aspects that require focused attention on the part of the chekists. In the recent years there were a number of accidents, crashes and other emergency situations at industrial and transport facilities. Investigations of these accidents show that in many cases they were a result of procedural violations, safety breaches or workplace discipline violations. Understandably the chekists are interested in the first place in whether this emergency situation was a result of a hostile plot, i.e. whether it is a result of enemy sabotage. This kind of question is quite justified. But it is not enough today. We cannot indifferently look at violations of traffic rules on railways or at how safety requirements are breached in the mining industry. There may not be a hostile plot in any of this, but its result is still a catastrophe. Then why should we wait for it to happen instead of taking steps to timely avert the threat of this happening?


We have to take into account that railway crashes, collapses of mines and other accidents which result in fatalities, negatively affect the attitudes of population and that, in turn, affects the state security interests.


Our comrades in the field very accurately report specific instances of collective anti-social sentiments, and they are right in doing that. But now I would like to talk about something different. Any sort of a collective anti-social sentiment does not just come about overnight on its own. There are always ringleaders and instigators of such actions. They often conduct the inflammatory campaign for a long time. Then why do our agents, our field offices not detect such processes at the inception, when they can still be averted? It is imperative that we do this, especially now, when the enemy’s subversive “voices” systematically broadcast their corrupting programs in our country. Here I would like to make a side note right away – this issue is so important that we can’t approach it from the narrowly departmental position, we can’t get into an argument over what agents and which lines are responsible for reporting fermenting of such processes. Any information on this issue is important and valuable, but it becomes doubly valuable when it allows to prevent, and not report after the fact, manifestations of anti-social behavior.


In modern conditions the role of the Armed Forces in protecting our state increases considerably. In this connection the enemy’s motives related to the Soviet Army and the NAVY are understandable. The goal of counter-intelligence as a whole is to hamper these attempts and to ensure the safety of the Armed Forces.


In the current conditions it is important to increase the level of our work, and to take a new, necessary step towards increasing mobilization and operating preparedness of state security agencies.


We are confronted by an experienced, technically well-equipped enemy, who is acting pro-actively and in a calculated manner, protecting itself from failure, camouflaging its actions, and striving to be inconspicuous. The dynamics of the developments in the operating environment requires that counter-intelligence services are able to sense changes in the actions of the enemy, that they cherish and nurture the seedlings of change in their work, that they see ahead. Our counter-intelligence service has to counter the actions of the enemy with its own pro-active approach, its logic, and its willpower.


The Congress’ decisions force us to look in a new way at some of the more crucial aspects of the work of the fifth line. The Congress pointed out the stepped-up activity of propaganda outlets of our class enemy, and their increased attempts to exercise corrosive influence over the minds of the soviet people. Ideological subversion conducted from overseas become the main means of the enemy’s subversive activities within the Soviet society.


You Comrades obviously noticed that the Report of the CPSU Central Committee to the 26th Congress treats the issues of state security and security of the soviet society as a single goal. This is understandable. In the conditions of developed socialism the interests of the state and the interests of the society are inseparable. But the work of protecting the state interests and the interests of the society requires a specific approach.


Ensuring state security means using resources of state security agencies to fight foreign intelligence agencies as well as other foreign anti-Soviet centers. This work includes shutting down the activities of spies, saboteurs and enemy agents. As can be seen, in this particular instance, this work has a very pronounced counter-intelligence nature.


When we approach the issues of protecting society, we face several other, more multi-faceted, tasks. We have to neutralize the actions of foreign ideological centers and of all sorts of other subversive centers; we have to fight their emissaries and agents. For these purposes we also use counter-intelligence resources. However, we must take into account that the said counter-intelligence operations in the fifth line are organized in the interests of society, and therefore in the interests of the people who live in this society. Here we also utilize the chekist methods, but they are not only counter-intelligence measures. They are prophylaxis and prevention of negative trends, drawing the attention of the public to such facts, i.e. the state security services have to actively participate in the educational function of the Soviet State.


The Party, the unions, and other public and government organizations relentlessly strengthen the social and political cohesiveness of the Soviet society and fight against the hostile influence of the West. Our objective is to clearly see our role in this important work. When the conventional education methods are not enough, we have to influence certain Soviet citizens from our positions, and if the laws are broken, then we should take enforcement actions utilizing the wide range of resources from the chekist arsenal.


Currently, there is no social basis in our country for the fermenting and spreading of anti-Soviet and other sort of anti-social moods. Nevertheless, based on what was said above about the international and operating environment, we can imagine that in some places, occasionally, negative moods do come to existence. These moods should not be mixed up with expressions of dissatisfaction towards poor supply, substandard living conditions, bureaucracy and so forth. But both in the former and in the latter cases, one has to assume that the enemy will try to use the said moods in order to damage the soviet regime as a whole.   


Lately the imperialist intelligence services and foreign anti-Soviet centers have clearly changed their tactics in their work against the Soviet Union. While they continue supporting selected individuals from the so-called “dissatisfied intelligentsia”, nationalists and religious zealots, they are trying to target larger sections of the population. Poland’s negative experience stirs the appetites of western ideologists who are now trying to create, what they call, “pockets of social agitation” in other socialist countries, including the Soviet Union.  


It is more noticeable that subversive centers are striving to use the church and the most fanatical part of its believers in order to fuel nationalistic, separatist and other negative moods. In order to destabilize the situation in the republics of Central Asia and Transcaucasia, the enemy stepped up its Pan-Turkist and Pan-Islamist propaganda using the events in Iran and Afghanistan for this purpose.


We have detected attempts of the enemy to propagate through its emissaries and to transplant into our society the idea of making fashionable in the West sects and societies of religious and cabalistic nature activities of which are ultimately aimed at lowering the socio-political activity of an individual and at developing social parasitism.


The desire of the enemy to poison the working class with their libelous fabrications about the so-called “erosion of workers’ rights,” “social inequality of women,” and “ignorance of the vital interests and needs of people with disabilities” is becoming more noticeable.


The enemy is stepping up its attempts to fuel emigration sentiment among the Jewish, German and Armenian population. Additionally, they are trying to use not only nationalistic sentiments, but also religious grounds, encouraging believers of different nationalities to leave the USSR. The ringleaders of Ukrainian, Estonian and other nationalistic organizations overseas are very loudly exploiting the topic of “the right to immigrate”.


When summarizing all of the above, one can’t help but come to the conclusion that in the area of ideological sabotage the enemy has started acting not only actively, but also in a more selective and insidious way, trying to tap into new opportunities. In these conditions the chekists are obliged to find new resources that would allow us to successfully prevent subversive actions of the enemy.


The workers of the fifth line have done a lot in the area of combating ideological subversive activities of the enemy. They neutralized and exposed all of the enemy’s attempts to create on the territory of our country an anti-Soviet underground and to organize legal opposition. This has helped the local party organizations to foster no-tolerance attitudes towards all sorts of negative sentiments.


Notable contribution in this work was made by the chekists of Ukraine, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia, and Yakutia, including the Moscow City and Moscow Region Directorate of the KGB, KGB Directorate for the Leningrad Region, KGB Directorate for the Gorky Region, KGB Directorate for the Vladimir Region, KGB Directorate for the Sverdlovsk Region and KGB Directorate for the Krasnodar Region.


The new conditions, the new tasks in the area of protecting the security of the soviet society posed by the party require improvement of the chekist work in the fifth line.


We have to step up counter-intelligence efforts against the emissaries of subversive centers and against other ideological infiltrators. We have to strive to detect their hostile activities not in Moscow or Kiev, but over there, across the border. The KGB agency has to use the immigrant community in various countries to create favorable positions for themselves.


Inside the country we should more decisively infiltrate various illegal anti-Soviet groups, especially at the stage of their inception, and energetically work towards their disintegration and the isolation of their most active members.


The conditions of developed socialism require a different approach by the chekists to the soviet people who fall victims to ideological sabotage. When dealing with such people, we have to see not only the bad, the harm in what they did after getting an earful of the Voice of America and other enemy “voices.” It is important to be aware, in each specific case, who is in front of us – a rampant turncoat and consummate enemy, or a “lost soul” whose negative sentiment grew as a result of his inadequate ideological stability or due to some random factors like grievance, illness, and discontent with real deficiencies in our life.


This condition has always been important for chekists, but it has acquired a special meaning nowadays in light of the introduction of the new Constitution. If there is an enemy in front of us, we have to act ruthlessly, we have to expose and isolate it. But, if we are dealing with a human being who misstepped, who got trapped in the artfully cast nets of the enemy, then we should try to save him for the society, save him as a Soviet citizen.


That is why the chekists have long adopted such humane methods as prevention. We also have no right to forget the fact that temporary isolation of individuals who have committed crimes will not solve all of their problems without the appropriate educational intervention.


We have discussed the issue of prevention multiple times and we continue to discuss it in the chekist community. Some comrades view preventive work as a conversation with an individual who committed unlawful acts. If we take an individual who took the unlawful path for the first time, then such measure could be justified. Others believe that prevention has to look like a sum of chekist operations with respect to such individuals. They are probably right, too. It all depends on the level of danger to society that the committed acts represent.


The new objectives related to insulating the soviet society from the subversive activities of the enemy, have triggered the need for new methods in our work in this area. Today we talk about not only preventively working with certain individuals, but also with the processes which may affect the mindset of people and cause negative sentiments in our society.


Any anti-social sentiment, as a rule, starts within a small group of people who are initially united, not by convictions, but by attitudes, and at first do not even conceal their negative beliefs. If we manage to timely detect such groupings of people and to forestall them from growing wide and deep, then they very quickly disintegrate. To do this means to prevent, i.e. to forestall a negative event.


But if we don’t react in a timely manner, then a small group may become a bigger group, the attitudes will turn into convictions and then into actions. Realizing the illegal nature of their behavior, people in these situations start to conceal their views and to introduce elements of secrecy when committing acts harmful to the society. In other words they switch to what is called semi-legal or illegal activities. Quite a number of such groups were exposed, and this has, to a great extent, disrupted the enemy’s plans to create a Soviet underground.


It is known that some young people end up in the anti-Soviet crowd having started their “friendship” through crime figures or by committing criminally punishable acts themselves. Today it could be black marketeering, fencing contraband goods, or pornography trading. Tomorrow it may transform into suspicious contacts with foreigners who may provide anti-Soviet literature “for review,” but in the end it leads to anti-Soviet activities.


The interlocking of subversive characters with the criminal world, and bringing political color into its activities creates favorable environment for hostile anti-social manifestations. It is because of this that chekists have to pay more attention to audacious crimes, to everything that may terrorize the population and disturb the peace of soviet citizens.


Obviously, I do not mean that we have to fully take over detection and prevention of such manifestations. This task will have to be achieved jointly by the party and Soviet organizations, th eMinistry of Internal Affairs, by public organizations and others.


We operate on the premise that the protection of the interests of society isa joint area of operations for all of the party, public, and administrative agencies. chekists cannot carve out for themselves some sort of a very narrow professional area and say, “This belongs to us, and the rest is none of our business.” Everything negative, foreign from our society, and that can cause unwanted incidents has to stay within our sight.


Everything I said about the operations of the fifth line is within the scope of our new objectives, our new directions of work. But this doesn’t mean at all that the previous directions of chekist work will be removed from the agenda. Work with emigrants and emigration centers, combating terrorism, thwarting subversive activities of the bourgeois nationalists, Zionists and other elements, will still continue to be relevant.


Our advantage is in the fact that in these areas we possess a well-functioning and proven, by our vast experience, system. However, the enemy maneuvers and widens the battle ground, and we in our work need to devise and take our own measures against these enemy actions.


With respect to the protection of the interests of Soviet citizens and the careful consideration of unlawful actions committed by them, I would like to praise the work of the investigative agencies. They are an important link in exposing and thwarting criminal activity. At the same time, they, like a mirror, reflect all strengths and weaknesses of the information gathered by the KGB and presented to law enforcement. It is specifically investigative agencies who assist the operations units and who give an unbiased evaluation of the evidence collected in the case.


In light of everything said above, this area of our work is becoming increasingly important. Therefore, everyone who works in this area has a special responsibility.


Border Security Troops


At the previous meetings, I had a sense that border security work was to some extent underestimated.  Some comrades argued that now, when our country is flooded by tourists, including specialists and representatives of capitalist companies, when spies and emissaries are hiding in their midst, and when intelligence operatives, as a rule, hide behind diplomatic passports, border protection loses its original meaning.


Life has shown the groundlessness of such arguments. The situation at the border did not become “carefree,” but, on the contrary, became even more intense. This happened every time the enemies of socialism were making aggressive preparations against our socialist Homeland. This is what is happening now. In the last year alone, at different sections of the border, we have intercepted 1,200 violators. Among them there are individuals who belong to enemy intelligence services. We discovered and confiscated a large amount of ideologically harmful materials, contraband goods and foreign currency.


The Command of Border Security Troops and the leadership of the KGB have conducted significant work to correct the organizational misalignment in the area of border protection. Based on experience, as well as on suggestions that came from party organizations of a number of republics and border zones, we made a decision to put an outpost, a checkpoint, or a ship at the core of the border security service. We have reinstated, though not in full scope, border command posts. The measures taken have increased border security, and put border security personnel closer to the frontiers, i.e. directly where the issues of border protection should be resolved.


In recent years, in accordance with the decisions of the Central Committee to strengthen the border at the Far East, new border districts, border security task forces and border security units have been created. Troops received first-class weapons, as well as specialized and engineering equipment. The Coast Guard has undergone qualitative changes. New ships are capable of accomplishing the most serious military and operating tasks. They carry powerful weapons and are comfortable for the work and life of their crews.


Due to the increasing interest of the enemy towards the Arctic, we are taking important measures to increase border security in the Arctic Sector, including on the most remote northern islands.


Border security agents of the Central Asian and Eastern districts have undergone a rigorous test of their moral, political and combat characteristics. They have taken part in the international assistance to Afghanistan. In difficult conditions in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountains they are fighting counter-revolutionary gangs who are armed with American, English and Chinese weapons and are trained by foreign instructors. They have proven that they are truly first-class, well-trained troops. Let all of the border security agents be worthy of such high military honor!


Comrades! Never since the Great Patriotic War and the tense “cold war” periods, was our confrontation with the enemy’s intelligence services as intense as it is now. The challenging tasks posed in front of chekists require organization and active participation of all of the personnel of the agency and troops of the KGB. This is what the party and ideological work should be directed at right now throughout the agency and in the troops.


We have to work and fight like we are in the frontlines, and follow the tough rules which the current situation dictates. This means that everyone should be fully engaged, and should put their full effort into their work. This is specifically what our party requires from the chekists. These requirements stem from the decisions of the 26th Congress of the CPSU.


The most important factor of successful work of state security services is the leadership of our Communist Party. This leadership has always been, is, and will always be the highest guidepost for the KGB’s work. The Central Committee and the Politburo of the CPSU’s Central Committee show everyday care about the chekists. They pay a lot of attention to the organization of their work, and they continuously monitor and guide it.


The participants of this meeting would like to assure the Central Committee of our Leninist Party, and the Soviet Government that the chekists will give everything in order to fulfill the task of providing security for our socialist Homeland.


[1] Materials of the 26th Congress of the CPSU, Moscow, Politizdat Publishing House, 1981, p.65

In a speech delivered at a meeting of the KGB, Andropov discusses the results of the 26th Congress of the CPSU, the state of Soviet intelligence work, and suggests areas of improvement in KGB intelligence work in light of heightened international tensions.

Document Information


'Deiatel'nost' Organov gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti SSSR na Sovremennom etape: Sbornik Dokumentov i materialov,' No. 15918, Vypusk 2 (Moskva: 1983), in GDA SBU, f. 13, o. 768, ll. 34-51. Obtained by Nate Jones and translated by Angela Greenfield.


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