Committee for State Security
Комитет государственной безопасности
Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti
Emblema KGB.svg
RIAN archive 142949 Lubyanka Square in Moscow.jpg
Lubyanka Building in 1991
Agency overview
Formed13 March 1954; 64 years ago (1954-03-13)
Preceding agencies
  • Cheka
  • GPU under NKVD RSFSR
  • OGPU
  • NKVD
  • NKGB
  • MGB
Superseding agency
TypeState committee of union-republican jurisdiction
JurisdictionCentral Committee
& Sovnarkom
Supreme Council
& President
HeadquartersLubyanka Square, 2, Moscow, Russian SFSR
MottoLoyalty to the party – Loyalty to motherland
Верность партии — Верность Родине
Agency executives
Child agencies
  • Foreign intelligence:
    First Chief Directorate
  • Internal security:
    Second Chief Directorate
  • Ciphering:
    Eighth Chief Directorate
    Chief Directorate of Border Forces

The KGB, an initialism for Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti (Russian: Комите́т госуда́рственной безопа́сности (КГБ), IPA: [kəmʲɪˈtʲet ɡəsʊˈdarstvʲɪnːəj bʲɪzɐˈpasnəsʲtʲɪ] (About this sound listen)), translated in English as Committee for State Security, was the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 1954 until its break-up in 1991. As a direct successor of such preceding agencies as Cheka, NKGB, NKVD and MGB, the committee was attached to the Council of Ministers. It was the chief government agency of "union-republican jurisdiction", acting as internal security, intelligence and secret police. Similar agencies were constituted in each of the republics of the Soviet Union aside from Russia, and consisted of many ministries, state committees and state commissions.

The agency was a military service governed by army laws and regulations, in the same fashion as the Soviet Army or MVD Internal Troops. While most of the KGB archives remain classified, two online documentary sources are available.[1][2] Its main functions were foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, operative-investigatory activities, guarding the State Border of the USSR, guarding the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Soviet Government, organization and ensuring of government communications as well as combating nationalism, dissent, and anti-Soviet activities.

In 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet state, the KGB was split into the Federal Security Service and the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation.

After breaking away from Georgia in the early 1990s with Russian help, the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia established its own KGB (keeping this unreformed name).[3] Russia's current head of state, Vladimir Putin, worked at the KGB in Leningrad.

Mode of operation

The ukase establishing the KGB

A Time magazine article in 1983 reported that the KGB was the world's most effective information-gathering organization.[4] It operated legal and illegal espionage residencies in target countries where a legal resident gathered intelligence while based at the Soviet embassy or consulate, and, if caught, was protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. At best, the compromised spy was either returned to the Soviet Union or was declared persona non grata and expelled by the government of the target country. The illegal resident spied, unprotected by diplomatic immunity, and worked independently of Soviet diplomatic and trade missions, (cf. the non-official cover CIA officer). In its early history, the KGB valued illegal spies more than legal spies, because illegal spies infiltrated their targets with greater ease. The KGB residency executed four types of espionage: (i) political, (ii) economic, (iii) military-strategic, and (iv) disinformation, effected with "active measures" (PR Line), counter-intelligence and security (KR Line), and scientific–technological intelligence (X Line); quotidian duties included SIGINT (RP Line) and illegal support (N Line).[5]

The KGB classified its spies as agents (intelligence providers) and controllers (intelligence relayers). The false-identity or legend assumed by a USSR-born illegal spy was elaborate, using the life of either a "live double" (participant to the fabrications) or a "dead double" (whose identity is tailored to the spy). The agent then substantiated his or her legend by living it in a foreign country, before emigrating to the target country, thus the sending of US-bound illegal residents via the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, Canada. Tradecraft included stealing and photographing documents, code-names, contacts, targets, and dead letter boxes, and working as a "friend of the cause" or as agents provocateurs, who would infiltrate the target group to sow dissension, influence policy, and arrange kidnappings and assassinations.[6]

Other Languages
asturianu: KGB
বাংলা: কেজিবি
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Камітэт дзяржаўнай бясьпекі
brezhoneg: KGB
català: KGB
Cebuano: KGB
čeština: KGB
dansk: KGB
Deutsch: KGB
eesti: KGB
Ελληνικά: Κα Γκε Μπε
español: KGB
Esperanto: KGB
euskara: KGB
فارسی: کاگ‌ب
français: KGB
Frysk: KGB
Gaeilge: KGB
galego: KGB
हिन्दी: केजीबी
íslenska: KGB
עברית: ק.ג.ב.
kurdî: KGB
lietuvių: KGB
magyar: KGB
македонски: КГБ
മലയാളം: കെ.ജി.ബി.
Bahasa Melayu: KGB
Nederlands: KGB (Sovjet-Unie)
नेपाली: केजिबी
norsk: KGB
norsk nynorsk: KGB
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਕੇ. ਜੀ. ਬੀ.
polski: KGB
português: KGB
română: KGB
Scots: KGB
shqip: KGB
sicilianu: KGB
Simple English: KGB
slovenčina: KGB
slovenščina: KGB
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: KGB
suomi: KGB
svenska: KGB
தமிழ்: கேஜிபி
татарча/tatarça: SSRB däwlät iminlek komitäte
Türkçe: KGB
اردو: کے جی بی
Tiếng Việt: KGB
吴语: 克格勃
ייִדיש: קא גע בע