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Soviet Union (former) Functions and Internal Organization
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    As a state committee with ministerial status, the KGB operated on the basis of a statute (polozhenie), confirmed by the Council of Ministers, that set forth in legal terms the KGB's powers and duties. Unlike the majority of statutes governing ministerial agencies, the KGB's statute was not published. Nevertheless, Soviet textbooks on administrative law offered useful statements about the KGB's role and functions. The KGB's tasks were generally defined in official Soviet publications as encompassing four areas: the struggle against foreign spies and agents, the exposure and investigation of political and economic crimes by citizens, the protection of state borders, and the protection of state secrets. In addition, the KGB was charged with a wide range of preventive tasks, which were designed to eliminate the causes of both political and ordinary crimes. In other words, the KGB was tasked with ferreting out potential threats to the state and preventing the development of unorthodox political and social attitudes among the population.

    Official Soviet sources did not discuss the internal structure of the KGB in detail. Nevertheless, some information on KGB organization and functions has been revealed by Soviet defectors and other sources. In 1988 the KGB had five chief directorates and three known (possible another) directorates that were smaller in size and scope than the chief directorates, as well as various other administrative and technical support departments (see fig. 37). Western estimates of KGB manpower have ranged from 490,000 in 1973 to 700,000 in 1986.

    The First Chief Directorate was responsible for all foreign operations and intelligence-gathering activities. It was divided into both functional services--training and management of covert agents, intelligence analysis, and collection of political, scientific, and technological intelligence--and geographic departments for different areas of the world.

    The Second Chief Directorate was responsible for internal political control of Soviet citizens and foreigners residing within the Soviet Union, including both diplomats and tourists. The Fifth Chief Directorate also dealt with internal security. Created in the late 1960s to combat political dissent, it took up some of the tasks previously handled by the Second Chief Directorate. The Fifth Chief Directorate had special operational departments for religious dissent, national minorities, the intelligentsia and the artistic community, and censorship of literature. The Seventh Directorate handled surveillance, providing personnel and technical equipment to follow and monitor the activities of both foreigners and suspect Soviet citizens. Much of this work was centered in the Moscow and Leningrad areas, where tourists, diplomats, foreign students, and members of the Soviet intelligentsia were concentrated. The Eighth Chief Directorate was responsible for the highly sensitive area of communications. This directorate provided technical systems, including cipher systems, for other KGB departments and government agencies and also monitored and deciphered foreign communications.

    The KGB had at least three additional directorates: the Third Chief Directorate, which dealt with military counterintelligence and political surveillance of the Soviet armed forces; the Border Troops Directorate, which protected Soviet land and sea borders; and the Ninth Directorate, which guarded the Kremlin and key offices of the CPSU.

    In addition to the various directorates and a special network of training and education establishments, the KGB had a personnel department, a secretariat, a technical support staff, a finance department, an archives, an administration department, and a party committee. Most of these bodies had counterparts within the different directorates. Party committees, which existed in every Soviet organization, handled political indoctrination of personnel. Heads of party committees arranged regular meetings to discuss party matters and served as liaisons between the party and the KGB at various levels, although party membership was probably universal among KGB employees. At the republic level, KGB organization was probably similar to that of the central KGB, although republic KGBs did not supervise units of the Border Troops, which were administered centrally. Nor did they include functions of the Third Chief Directorate, which was organized primarily along military service lines or by military district. In addition, functions such as communications and foreign espionage may have been administered only in Moscow.

    Data as of May 1989

    NOTE: The information regarding Soviet Union (former) on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Soviet Union (former) Functions and Internal Organization information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Soviet Union (former) Functions and Internal Organization should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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