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The KGB (КГБ) is the common abbreviation for the Russian: About this sound Комитет государственной безопасности (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti or State Committee for State Security). It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and its premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.

The contemporary State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus uses the Russian name KGB. Most of the KGB archives remain classified, yet two on-line documentary sources are available.[1][2]


Modus operandi

In a 1983 Time Magazine article it was stated that the KGB has been the world's most effective information-gathering organization.[3] It operated legal and illegal espionage residencies in target countries where the legal resident spied from the Soviet embassy, and, if caught, was protected with diplomatic immunity from prosecution; at best, the compromised spy either returned to the Soviet Union or was expelled by the target country government. The illegal resident spied unprotected by diplomatic immunity and worked independently of the Soviet diplomatic and trade missions, (cf. the non-official cover CIA agent). In its early history, the KGB valued illegal spies more than legal spies, because illegals penetrated their targets more easily. 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–technologic intelligence (X Line); quotidian duties included SIGINT (RP Line) and illegal support (N Line).[4] At first, using the romantic and intellectual allure of "The First Worker–Peasant State" (1917), "The Fight Against Fascism" (1936–39), and the "Anti-Nazi Great Patriotic War" (1941–45) the Soviets recruited many idealistic, high-level Westerners as ideological agents . . . but the Russo–German Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (1939) and the suppressed Hungarian Uprising (1956) and Prague Spring (1968) mostly ended ideological recruitment.

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