The 1974 summer of the year was not much different from the similar season in previous years. A hot haze hung over Moscow. Soft asphalt - with prints of thin female stiletto heels. A weak breeze, alas, not carrying coolness. Fast and light rain ...
After a working day and on weekends, I want only one thing: to get out into nature - into the forest, to the lake, to a river. And merge with this very nature. Sunbathe, bathe, pour warm water filled with sun. Better yet, go hiking for a few days. And forget that the place of your service is one of the toughest and most authoritative structures - the mysterious and terrible, from the point of view of the average man, the State Security Committee, and what the Party expects from you, which has not yet lost its influence in the country.
In this article I would like to remind you of His Majesty the Case. That case itself, which at once can change, and sometimes even erase the whole previous life. The chain of events that lead us intersect with the fates of other people, turning suddenly into an intricate tie of your own, which, as often happens, even you yourself cannot always manage. Even if nature has provided you with good looks, remarkable physical strength and ability to think outside the box.
Beat the shaft of terror
Once, a West German magazine with the image of a group of hefty guys in camouflage came across Yu.V. neutralize the terrorists.
Do not get this magazine in the eyes of the KGB Chairman, could we become exactly what we became and what? Exactly such? Perhaps. But with a few changes.
To the credit of Yuri Vladimirovich, it should be noted that the creation of Group “A” has become natural and necessary. True, not everyone was even aware of this, and in general the concept of "terrorism" was initially perceived by us as something characteristic only of "decaying somewhere there" capitalism. Probably, there exists in the world some kind of fatal predestination, leading us along the path of life. Rock? Is it fate? The name is not significant. The essence is important.
The meeting of two chiefs, the KGB and the Seventh Directorate in charge of protecting the embassies in Moscow, resulted in the decision to create a special anti-terrorism unit in the structure of the State Security Committee, with a light hand from Yu. V. Andropov, nicknamed Group A.
And for us, pets and creators, it was, is and will be just Group “A”, because the loop of the riddle is only for the uninformed. We perceive it as an ordinary working group. A group of like-minded people, friends, and colleagues, after all, although the definition of “colleague” is not always appropriate for a bloody man in a pea jacket ...
From the very beginning, it was specifically stipulated that the new formation was directly subordinate to Yu. V. Andropov. The basic document that determined the future status of the unit, its tasks, goals and principles of operation - the Regulation on Group A - was prepared literally in a matter of days.
General MM Milyutin, head of the Seventh KGB Directorate, was appointed to be in charge of preparing the documents. As for its direct development, it was engaged in the officers of the "seven" - Lieutenant Colonel Varnikov Mikhail Alekseevich, Colonel Demin Nikolai Grigorievich and Major Ivon Robert Petrovich.
The document provided that the main task of the Group is to localize and prevent acts of terror and other especially dangerous criminal attacks aimed at hijacking aircraft or hostages within the Soviet Union, as well as freeing Soviet citizens captured in foreign countries, institutions and their vehicles. .
The commander of the unit (at the suggestion of Yu.V. Andropov) will be the former head of the frontier post, who received the Hero of the Soviet Union for the events on Damanskiy Island, Major Vitaly Bubenin.
At number one, Major Robert Yvon was enrolled in the Group. Since the summer of 1974, he has been engaged in the selection of candidates for the division and the solution of organizational issues.
This is how Robert Petrovich himself recalls this time: “Colonel Levshov read me an order, on the basis of which I was appointed head of the 10 branch of the Seventh Directorate of the KGB of the USSR. My task was to pick up a staff of thirty people, mostly from among the staff of the "seven". People need to know what terrorism is, have the discipline and abilities of an ordinary fighter who can take command, as needed, have a high intellectual potential, higher education, be a good sniper, demolition man, swimmer ... Of course, the moral character must be appropriate. The task is “unpretentious”: to find 30 potential “James Bond” with a complete lack of amorous hobbies.
I considered myself a very successful young man. Major He graduated from the Kaliningrad Border School. A member of the KGB team ... But what was required of me seemed unreal. First thought: "There are no such people!"
However, such people, oddly enough, were found ... Once a phone call from the personnel department rang in my office: “For work in the Group, we recommend Sergey Aleksandrovich Golov. Physician, master of sports in Sambo, physically developed ... "
First thought: “So, we meet the first one. I wonder what he is? ”Replied:“ Let him come. ” And he came. Mighty, strong, calm guy. Afterwards - my friend. Sergey and I both grew up in the Volga region. The fate of something similar. But perhaps not only that. He immediately endeared me to him. This person is very decent, honest, kind. Our work meant not just communication. Risk was considered the norm.
For Seryozha, I do not remember a single petty, bad, unworthy act. He was immediately appointed commander of the "five". Of course, I understood that I set almost impracticable tasks for Sergey. But Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov clearly expressed his thought: “We must prepare people so that they learn to free people without blood. It is important that no hair falls from the hostages head. And it is also important that none of our fighters perish. ” To this and sought.
Seryoga taught me ... calm. He himself was always calm. Calm when I demanded, it seemed impracticable. Calm in moments of confusion, general nervousness. In a decisive situation - also calm. Almost simultaneously with Golovy Valery Petrovich Emyshev came. The initiative was made. I believed that I would cope with the tasks. ”
At the time, an ordinary member of the State Security Committee, I was recommended by the first deputy chairman of the KGB, Semyon Kuzmich Tsvigun. Such is the general “patronage”: either “with a shield” you return, or “on the shield”, as the ancient Greeks figuratively expressed. And this implies either high rewards or death, which you will accept on an unknown battlefield. And maybe a medal and a coffin at the same time ...
Yvoni’s applicants were assessed according to a proven principle: with whom would he personally go to reconnaissance. The main selection criteria: absolute endurance, the ability to calmly think and act - even under bullets.
The specificity of the tasks that had to be solved meant not just a good, but a special degree of physical fitness. Almost all of us had high sports ranks, and more often - workshop categories. Gennady Kuznetsov, for example, was a master of sports in weightlifting, Mikhail Romanov - in wrestling, Yuri Izotov and Valentin Shergin - winners of major all-around events (athletics, skiing, swimming and shooting), Gleb Tolstikov - a national boxing champion.
Giving me a recommendation, Semen Kuzmich, in all likelihood, took into account my medical training and the title of master of sports in sambo.
When I arrived at the unit and met Robert Petrovich, the first question I asked him was:
- Where did you get such a strange surname: it sounds like Russian Ivan, but in French style - Yvon?
“Probably, the French passed by my village, and here our ancestors got a strange last name,” he answered with a touch of irony.
It took a little time to feel literally at the physical level that the formation of a new structure was entrusted to a talented person. A highly educated officer, an intellectual and demanding commander, he infected us with his enthusiasm, taught us to think and act independently.
The eternal Russian question "What to do?" Appeared before us in all its glory. Where only they did not collect information on foreign special units: GHA-9 (West Germany), CAC (England), Cobra (Austria), GAL (Spain) ... were looking for literature, materials on terrorism.
Later, employees of the First Main Directorate of the KGB (intelligence) translated a book about the famous American group Delta. Tactical techniques, methods of internal interaction, we carefully studied, processed, adapted to our conditions.
Yvon clearly set the task:
- You have a medical and physical education. Decide for a start, who we need to prepare, what qualities to develop in people. What should they be able to think fast or run fast? What do you think is the main thing? Prepare a development program.
Selection criteria are the toughest. Athletic achievements of candidates, good fire, physical, general education, human inclinations, his ability to quickly converge with people, reaction speed, reasonable risk, self-discipline, ingenuity, resourcefulness, restraint ...
Oddly enough, the latter quality has often played a key role. Excessive emotionality and conflict could become a serious obstacle to enrollment in the Group. Of course, we didn’t prepare for romantic adventures in the “agent 007” style, knowing that our work is blood-thinned legs, bitter lips from pain. If you give relief in training, you will lose a life in battle.
No special privileges or increase in the rate we were not supposed to. The only thing that allowed - to consider a year of service in the unit for a half.
It seemed that the flow of orders would never run dry. But Robert Petrovich not only gave orders. He worked with us. After much deliberation, they jointly concluded that, first of all, the fighters needed to develop a fast reaction in combination with speed and strength endurance. Moreover, this reaction should be not only physical, but also mental. I began to make the appropriate programs.
The deadline was tight, but it was interesting to work. But I managed to start implementing the plan only after some time.
Almost simultaneously with me Valery Petrovich Emyshev was enrolled in the Group.
In August I came to the Group, and in September I lost my father - my heart ... for me it was a huge loss. My father has always been my best friend and advisor. The pain of loss intensified from the awareness of inner guilt: visiting him in the hospital, I could not even tell him about my new job. He said that he had moved to a new division, that the work there was difficult enough, and ... everything.
There, in the hospital, I first saw tears in my father's eyes:
“Tomorrow is an operation ... I don't want ...”
- You are a strong man, an athlete. You will conquer your illness. Everything will be fine, I reassured him. But he died.
I was given a two-week vacation, which I did not even feel - the pain of loss was too great. When he returned, he plunged into work. Only this saved. During my absence, a lot of new people appeared who urgently needed to be prepared according to the previously drawn up program. Along the way, the program grew, developed, corrected.
Aces Training Center
In September 1974, Vitaly Dmitrievich Bubenin was appointed the group commander. He, like me, walked on the recommendation of Zvigun, although Yury Vladimirovich Andropov was directly involved in the selection of the commander, considering this his personal mission.
Like any appointment in our system, the choice was not accidental. Lead the military unit could only combat commander. A few years before the events described, the Soviet border guards had to take the brunt of the Chinese on Damanski Island and restrain the aggressors until the main forces approached. During the fierce clashes, Lieutenant Vitaly Bubenin, the head of the border post, distinguished himself.
By the time Group A was established, Vitaly Dmitrievich had “grown” to the deputy head of the Karelian border detachment. The hero of the Soviet Union, the border guard, the military signalman, he, like no other, came to this position.
His appointment took place on September 5 1974. As already mentioned, the main burden of the initial formation of the unit and personnel selection was assumed by major R. P. Yvon, subsequently - deputy commander of Group “A”. Before that, I will clarify once again that he was the head of the 10 division of the 5 division within the G7.
With the help of Vitaly Dmitrievich Bubenin, we used the Field Training Center near Yaroslavl. The PLC was located far from megacities, and almost the wild nature of the central Russian strip was spread around it. Once with Robert Petrovich and Sergey Kolomeytsy we drove past the river. Suspended in shallow water and suddenly saw a burbot peacefully splashing! Straight from the shore, siganuv into the river, Sergey Kolomeets grabbed a fish with his bare hands. This rarely happens in our time!
We were young, we believed that all life was ahead, we believed in our strength and unlimited possibilities, and it happened that we “replayed”. Our first summer meeting with the Center was marked by an unpleasant event.
We were warned that the field road should not be accelerated, and we must go at a speed of no more than fifty kilometers per hour. But how can aces, as we considered ourselves, move with such a "snail" speed?
The speedometer relentlessly crawled up the car, it seems, began to bring. Volodya Bagrov, as if sensing something was wrong, said that he needed to get out of the car and asked to stop. But it was too late. The radius of the "drift" suddenly increased dramatically ... It's good that Sergei Kolomeets successfully moved into the ditch.
In winter, on the basis of the training center, we began to conduct training in shooting of all kinds weaponsup to grenade launchers. Here we were allowed to drive an armored personnel carrier. They put me in the car. The lack of a driver's license did not bother the instructor: “Nothing, you will go!” Tensely, he drove around the circle.
Then the instructor ordered to go on the road. We left. Around snow. The road is only slightly cleared, but it was easy to go. I do not remember how the bridge slipped: there was too much tension. And then I saw the skiers, scared and ... turned into the snow. Motor stalled. This was my first experience in driving an armored personnel carrier.
Among us were drivers, aces. Huge, good-natured, real Russian hero Alexei Bayev, Gene Zudin, Sergey Koptev ...
In the PLC, we often went to the shooting. The border guard officer who conducted the classes often spoke with mild envy: “You give as many rounds per day as we don’t see in a year.”
Yes, an elite unit ... The younger generation, having heard such a phrase, will smell the money. And - wrong. An employee of Alpha received a salary of only twenty rubles more than the officers with the same rank in the Fifth Directorate of the KGB, who were engaged in political search.
The backbone of the Group was middle-level officers, from senior lieutenant to major. The established category of the group commander is a colonel. However, for the vast majority of the inhabitants of the vast country of our unit simply did not exist: the nature of their new service, as I mentioned, could not even speak to the closest people. The atmosphere of the strictest secrecy, which at first attracted us (the Jamesbond romance!), Gradually began to put pressure on the psyche — many became closed, tense.
Colonel Golov (second from right) with a group of 1970's Alpha veterans. The editors of “Special Forces of Russia” bring their sincere apologies to him and Mikhail Vasilyevich Golovatov (in the photo on the far right) for the fact that in the last issue they were out of the frame in this photo[/ Center]
Voltage was transmitted to close people. Many lost their families - wives often could not stand the regular absences of their favorite men in an unknown direction. Although a plausible version was developed for each assignment, it did not always work. Often, even children felt false. But this is only later. And then, at the very beginning, we did not think about it. And there was no time.
The first time in the unit especially paid attention to the physical and special training. Prior to automatism, they worked out ways to neutralize terrorists in a hijacked plane, railway car, bus, apartment ...
We studied various types of airplanes, the location of doors and hatches, the order of changing crews, unloading luggage and refueling airliners with fuel; on the move, to the sound, on flashes, at the ultimate range.
Without exception, everyone jumped with a parachute, passed the “run-in” on armored vehicles, mastered the program of combat swimmers. Learned to drive cars of any type, could fire from tanks, BMP, armored personnel carriers, supported radio communications using standard means of communication.
At first, we only had serial weapons at our disposal: a Makarov pistol, Kalashnikov assault rifles of various modifications, a Dragunov sniper rifle, and a large-caliber Vladimirov machine gun. Later the American M-16 rifle appeared, and the Scorpion machine gun for close combat. In parallel, we studied the means of psychological influence, throwing devices, mastered optical and night sights.
For emergency opening of doors, hatches, locks developed sets of overhead charges, powerful cutters silent action. With the help of highly sensitive technical devices, they learned to penetrate into closed rooms, practiced the tactics of using the special means of Rollglis, explosive devices of the directional “Key”, light-noise grenades ...
We were especially proud of the development of the “alarming diplomat” (the idea and development of Alexander Molokov), in which everything that was needed could fit - from a toothbrush to a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
In the evenings and on duty, psychology was studied: weapons could only be used when absolutely necessary, and therefore a competently constructed dialogue with the bandits could be more effective than any weapon. Later, our internal installation for the bloodless resolution of the most dramatic situations will be called the hallmark of the professional Alpha handwriting. This installation put us on different poles with gangsters: they carried death, we brought life back.
However, like any living organism during its formation, we have experienced a lot of everyday difficulties.
“Watch carefully where the kettle is on!”
At first we were placed in the gym on the mats. They trained here, and rested here. For the rest they put folding beds.
Later, the mats had to be removed: too much dust was from them. With difficulty, but I managed to break through the sheets with the management so that people could rest on their underwear. It seems to be a trifle - bed linen, but getting a good rest, the officers could, if they speak in official language, significantly increase the coefficient of return during training.
Particular difficulties arose in the preparation of snipers. Good sniper in general is difficult to pick up. In the character of a person must be some special excerpt. In order to make, perhaps, a single “right” shot, sometimes you have to wait for the right moment for hours. It may sound strange, but the state of immobility requires high-quality physical training.
Classes, however intense they may be, cannot replace life. And she was walking, this very life, even when we were in the confined space of the gym. And this happened because in 1970-s, party congresses and “responsible events” were not uncommon. During such periods we were in a barracks position - up to 45 days we could sit in the same room hopelessly. Remaining on alert, we had to wait in constant tension in the wings.
As always, a joke came to the rescue. They joked in different ways. Like children, folding cot legs tucked. The man lies down - falls. Sometimes dismantled springs on the bed. All this - for the sake of laughter. And laughter relaxes, relieves accumulated tension.
They fought hard against each other’s shortcomings. Among us were avid "snorers", such as Alexei Bayev, Gena Zudin and Sasha Koptev. They were allowed to go to bed only after everyone fell asleep.
But one joke you will not be full. At such gatherings people had to be fed. Several people put on a duty uniform and went to the nearest kitchen factory at lunch.
It happened that a curious distributor asked:
- Fifteen servants dial? (Then, for minor offenses, many were often “closed” at the police station).
In order not to get involved in the debate, they answered:
- Oh, still ladle scoop, maybe there is mine! - exclaimed compassionate woman.
Once on duty very hurried. Grabbed tanks and went to the kitchen. And the tanks were with a “secret”. They poured him borscht, he went home, that is, to us. When they gathered for dinner, they opened, they saw that the chumps in the borsch were floating. Just a hurry-up attendant forgot to put stainless steel inserts in the tanks. He and poured into the covers of the first dish. I had to content only the second.
There were situations and unfunny. Once during a workout, Gena Zudin had a bad side. Having examined the guy, I made a preliminary diagnosis - appendicitis. Sent to the hospital, underwent surgery. It is good that here I was not let down by the knowledge gained in my youth.
I enjoyed working in this team. The main quality of these people, perhaps, courage. Take, for example, the case of Nikolai Vasilyevich Berlev, who, rescuing a man, fell under a train.
“I was returning from a training session and was going to get to Khimki,” recalls Nikolai Vasilyevich. - An electric train came ... And a fast train approached the other way. I looked, the man standing on the platform came close to the edge and did not see the mortal danger approaching him. There was no time to think. I jumped on him, pressed. The man did not realize what was happening, began to resist. As a result, I was hooked, and he had no scratches!
Brought to the Sklifosovsky Institute. When they looked around, it turned out that eight of my ribs were broken, my collarbone was broken, my shoulder blade was torn off, and a lung was punctured - from which liquid was pumped out by liters.
I spent forty days in Sklif. Then he recovered at home for several months, when it became possible - he began to train slowly. Because outside of Group "A" I did not think of myself. And the man, his name was Peter Stepanyuk, came to me in Sklif, apologized ... Well, what can you say? It turned out ... how it happened. “I didn’t hold onto him,” concludes the story Nikolai Vasilyevich.
Gena Zudin was our operational driver. He drove the group to trainings, to operational tasks. Once we come back from the jumps from Tula, and to meet us - a car with a trailer, the driver is drunk. As a result of a frontal impact, the glass broke, the rear-view mirror, and the perpetrator of the incident, without stopping, drove on. Of course, the accompanying car caught up with him.
It turned out that the driver was deprived of his driver's license ... But Gene had a hard time - it was something in the winter. We carefully wrapped him up, put on his glasses, and he drove us, in fact, in the open air. The man, in fact, made a heroic deed, but on the basis of it he was also joking. However, he was not offended.
He gets up to drink tea, turn on the kettle in the socket and leave, so that others do not interfere with sleep. And someone will switch the cord in the radio socket - and to his place, slowly. Gene will do, look - the kettle does not boil. Once approached, the other ... What is it? And the culprit, know yourself, chuckles. Finally, I could not stand it: “Look more carefully, you have a kettle turned on in the radio socket!” They joked like that.
“Lesha, come on!”
Although the task before me was to teach others, it somehow turned out that every day we, teachers, brought a new experience. The teacher not only teaches, but also learns.
Gennady Zudin, along with Alexey Baev, perfectly mastered almost all types of transport. One day we return from the Field Training Center. It was summer Friday. The situation was such that if we had time to get to the main base before five o'clock in the evening, we would have time to receive a salary. If not, wait until Monday. I did not want to wait until Monday, and therefore asked the driver:
- Lesha, come on!
And Lesha "gave"! Eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier at maximum speed famously rolled on field roads. Then, in the traffic flow of Moscow, Baev drove the car no less skillfully. For the most part, drivers tried to drive around such a serious technique. Some kind of “traffic cop”, most likely out of curiosity, tried to settle down with us: “Stop!” But when he saw the barrel of the machine gun that had appeared from the BTR and the mustached, stern face of one of us, he decided to leave behind.
In fact, we constantly had to run in our armored personnel carriers, like every other car. If the car is long, then the seals dry up, the transport deteriorates. Pilots also always run in their vehicles. This is the law!
Since October, 1974, the subdivision functioned according to the following scheme: one shift is on duty around the clock, the second is resting after duty, the third is preparing to intercede on combat duty, the fourth - on combat training.
Each compartment had its own driver, although all others had certain driving skills. Our main drivers were Aleksey Baev, Sergey Koptev, Volodya Filimonov and Gena Zudin.
An interesting incident occurred with Volodya Filimonov during the run-in at Dmitrovskoye Highway. Well, the case is not the case, the episode. There we had a specially equipped route to warn the traffic police about the movement of military equipment in the city. It was winter. The armored personnel carrier went on the left side so as not to interfere with the traffic. Some dashing taxi driver decided to overtake him on the left. But ... did not calculate his strength.
The road was snow-covered, and a taxi flew under an armored personnel carrier. Volodya quickly got his bearings; the matter for the cab was done with a crumpled side of the car. We stopped. A frightened passenger jumped out of a taxi and rushed to run. Nearby was a traffic police post. The taxi driver insisted that the war machine drove on him. Volodya, in turn, - on the fact that the taxi driver is guilty of the accident. A traffic police officer confirmed his case. And yet ... they decided that it was not a place for military equipment on peaceful highways.