After the collapse of the USSR, and after the Warsaw Pact Organization in some Russian media, feature films and documentaries began to appear about the interaction of the secret services of the USSR and the socialist countries, where the KGB of the USSR seems to be a monstrous monster that had a great influence on the special services of the socialist countries, significantly limiting their independence. A similar approach to presenting stories of the work of the USSR special services causes legitimate protest and bewilderment on the part of former leaders and employees of the State Security Committee. How it really was, what tasks were solved by the secret services of the Warsaw Pact countries - in a conversation with the former deputy head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the PGU of the USSR KGB, Major General Nikolai Kalyagin.
"TOMORROW". Nikolai Egorovich, how close was the interaction of the intelligence services of the countries members of the Warsaw Pact and how often did the leadership of the KGB of the USSR, who had great authority in the world, make adjustments to their work?
Nikolay Kalyagin. The state and party leadership of our country has always paid great attention to the issues of cooperation and interaction between the KGB of the USSR and the relevant special services of the Warsaw Pact countries. Such interaction has always been considered as the most important component of interstate and inter-party relations. The strategic direction of this cooperation was determined by the political decisions of the ruling parties: congresses, plenary sessions of the Central Committees and current decisions of the party organs.
It always had a planned character, and plans were drawn up separately in each Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR in the direction of their work: intelligence, counterintelligence, etc., and then, in one form or another, were coordinated with the CPSU Central Committee and therefore were not voluntaristic, but legal character. This moment is very important, because it emphasizes once again - in its many-sided work, the KGB of the USSR was not an absolutely independent organization - it was always accountable and controlled by the Central Committee of the CPSU.
Whoever claims the opposite, either blatantly lies, or is simply incompetent. I can confirm this because I was the head of the division that oversaw the cooperation and interaction of the KGB of the USSR with the MGB GDR, and in January 1981, August 1982, I was appointed head of the division that oversaw the same questions, but with the special services of all the socialist countries entering to the Warsaw Pact.
Returning to the annual plans of cooperation with friends, as we formally and informally called together our colleagues from socialist countries, I consider it necessary to emphasize that the initiative in preparing proposals for such plans always came not from the KGB, but from the special services of the friendly countries.
It was a very important point set by Yuri. Andropov, who believed that if the cooperation between the KGB and the special services of socialist countries was based only on our proposals, this would give unprincipled people and politicians from the countries of the NATO bloc to state that we are trying to violate the independence and sovereignty of our friends.
After the death of Andropov, the following leaders of the KGB of the USSR, Viktor Chebrikov and Vladimir Kryuchkov, piously observed this principle.
Proposals for the joint work of friends were summarized, concentrated, drawn up in the form of a plan, and returned for coordination with the party leadership of their countries.
After that, meetings of the delegations of the KGB of the USSR and the secret services of friendly countries were held, during which only certain positions of the plan were specified, points were specified, terms were determined, etc.
Such an approach to cooperation: planning, coordination, meetings for discussing and approving strategic directions in the party organs contributed to the fact that there were practically no disagreements between us.
As for the tactics of solving specific problems and questions, the friends chose them themselves, based on their experience and the availability of operational capabilities.
If they appealed to us with a request to express our proposals for any problems, or our wishes, to which they pay special attention, then, of course, these requests were always carefully considered by the leadership of the KGB and its Offices. I want to emphasize that attentive attitude to friends, their requests, wishes and even moods was an unshakable rule that the Chairman of the KGB of the USSR Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov constantly inspired us
This was his firm position, which he brought to the work of the KGB of the USSR from the Central Committee of the CPSU. After all, before being appointed Chairman of the KGB of the USSR, in 1967, he worked as secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, head of the department of the CPSU Central Committee in charge of inter-party relations of the CPSU with the communist parties of the Warsaw Pact member countries. Thus, the above principle of relations with the special services of friends was a party principle.
"TOMORROW". And who exactly could make adjustments to the joint work plans of the special services of the USSR and the countries of the Socialist Commonwealth?
Nikolay Kalyagin. As for the amendments to the already approved plans, they, of course, were the place to be, both on the part of the KGB of the USSR and on the part of friends. The well-known postulate “the plan is not a dogma, but a guide to action” also worked for us. The fact is that the situation has changed, some events have taken place, operational capabilities have changed - all this required adjusting plans and clarifying them. But the main areas of cooperation remained strategic and passed from plan to plan.
"TOMORROW". And which areas in joint work were priority?
Nikolay Kalyagin. These included the directions arising from the party decisions of congresses and plenums of the Central Committee of the Communist Parties, from the assessment of the international situation, which was formed due to the confrontation of the two political systems, from the presence of two military organizations - NATO and the Organization of the Warsaw Pact.
Do not view, during the time to reveal NATO preparations for a nuclear missile strike on the USSR and the Warsaw Pact countries. This danger had a very real basis. NATO and the United States had specific plans for such a strike. Although today such plans exist - it can not be hidden. Is it dangerous. And attempts to do this are obvious.
Get timely information about the scientific and technical breakthroughs of NATO countries in creating new species weapons mass destruction.
Issues of struggle in an operational way with international political terrorism, religious fundamentalism, with terrorist tendencies, with nationalist terrorism implicated in separatist ambitions.
The fight against illicit drug trafficking, drug trafficking, as a force seeking political power, behind which in many countries of Indochina and Latin America stood the CIA. It had the right to quickly penetrate and introduce its agents into these forces and terrorist groups, with which they helped to come to power in different regions of the world.
I would like to especially emphasize that the cooperation between the KGB of the USSR and the special services of the Warsaw Pact countries was rather flexible both in form and in content, which did not allow for misunderstandings and misunderstandings.
"TOMORROW". Did the KGB of the USSR have friendly relations with all the special services of the Warsaw Pact Organization? After all, it is known that the Romanian leader Nikolai Ceausescu even in words emphasized his loyalty to the socialist fraternity, but in fact he often played on the international stage against the USSR.
Nikolay Kalyagin. From a political point of view, the attitude of the KGB of the USSR to all the special services of the socialist countries was equally friendly, no exceptions were made in this regard. The observance of equality in this matter was monitored by the so-called trends in socialist countries. However, the scale and range of cooperation with each country was different. We have worked well and fruitfully with the Ministry of State Security of the GDR, primarily in terms of the amount of information we receive and operational interaction in various operational activities. The results of interaction with Bulgarian and Czechoslovak friends were also good.
The level of friendliness in the relations of the KGB of the USSR to the special services of the socialist countries depended, of course, on the effectiveness of cooperation. We have always tried to make our contribution to this cooperation as high as possible.
At the same time, the KGB of the USSR had one important principle: always be willing to cooperate, but not give friends a reason to think that we are more interested in this cooperation than they are.
In your question you mentioned Ceausescu, pointing out that he often played on the international stage against the Soviet Union. Answering your question, I will give an example of cooperation between the KGB of the USSR and the special services of Romania.
In 1961, I happened to communicate with Romanian friends in one very specific case. With the help of the representative office of the KGB of the USSR in Bucharest, we interacted with counterintelligence of the Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Romania. The operative workers of the Romanian special services who took part in the operation showed a great understanding of the purpose and objectives of the event, benevolence and friendly disposition towards me, and as a result, the operation ended with the result we needed. Years passed, the personal composition of the party-state leadership of Romania changed, Nikolai Ceausescu came to power. And our contacts with Romanian colleagues ceased.
We have not packed with cooperation with the Romanians for many years. Then Ceausescu's career ended tragically, and the new Romanian government asked the Soviet leadership to restore the former cooperation of our special services.
In the spring of 1990, I was assigned to lead a delegation of our employees and go to Bucharest to conduct specific negotiations, which resulted in determining specific parameters, directions and topics for cooperation and interaction, which were later approved by the leadership of the KGB and the Romanian side.
But you can give examples of another kind. Let's say our interaction with the special services of North Korea.
We normally cooperated with them somewhere before the early sixties, but then, at the initiative of the DPRK leadership, this work ceased. In the late fifties and early sixties, as you know, the period of ideological disagreements and discussions of the CPSU with the Chinese Communists, which the North Korean comrades supported at that time, began. By this time, the formation of the personality cult of Kim Il Sung had already been completed in North Korea.
By the early nineties, the North Korean leadership began to look for ways out of foreign policy isolation. One of the measures in this direction was a proposal to restore contacts between the security services of the DPRK and the USSR.
In the spring of 1990, the leadership of the KGB of the USSR, with the consent of the CPSU Central Committee, instructed me to lead a delegation to conduct the relevant negotiations in Pyongyang. It is interesting to note that from a protocol point of view, the delegation of the KGB of the USSR was accepted quite decently, at a good level. However, long-term isolation from the outside world had a negative effect on North Korean friends' understanding of political realities. This was evident from the naivety of their suggestions, questions and evaluations of operational events.
"TOMORROW". Did the head of the KGB of the USSR have the deciding vote during the decision on the election of the head of this or that country? I will say why I ask this question. In the memoirs of Marcus Wolf "Man without a face", an excerpt of which was published in the newspaper "Top Secret" in 1997, it is explicitly stated that before removing from the post of the head of the GDR Walter Ulbricht Erich Milke asked to inform Andropov and Brezhnev about this. Why Andropov, and then Brezhnev?
Nikolay Kalyagin. The KGB never interfered in the process of electing or re-electing the leaders of parties and states in fraternal socialist countries. It was an internal affair of these countries. I admit that on these issues there could have been an exchange of views at a high party level, but not with the KGB. Erich Milke, as the Minister of State Security of the GDR, communicated with the Chairman of the KGB of the USSR directly, by telephone "HF - communication", or through a representative of the KGB of the USSR at the Ministry of State Security of the GDR.
The fact of the transfer of information about Walter Ulbricht could take place. Erich Milke, as the minister could transfer it to Andropov not for personal use, but to familiarize her with the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, who was then Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev. It was a formally established channel - Erich Milke through the chairman of the KGB of the USSR for Brezhnev and the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee. This fact could have occurred, most likely in 1971, when V. Ulbricht was already 78 years old and the question of his resignation from the post of General Secretary of the SED Central Committee matured naturally. In this case, Erich Milke told Yu.V. Andropov the opinion of his comrades on the Politburo of the SED Central Committee, who wanted to consult with their Soviet comrades.
This was a common occurrence in the friendly relations between the CPSU and the SED.
"TOMORROW". Where was the question of trusting the leader of the socialist countries and the heads of their special services: the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU or the KGB of the USSR, who provided information on the situation in these countries?
Nikolay Kalyagin. The question of trust or distrust of one or another leader of the socialist country has never been raised anywhere, and therefore has not been resolved.
It could be about the level and degree of relations between the leadership of the CPSU or the KGB of the USSR with one or another leader of the country. Relations were built and formed on the basis of information received by the Central Committee of the CPSU along all lines: party, diplomatic, intelligence, journalistic.
Information from the KGB was not the only one, but one of the components of the entire information complex. No agent was needed to receive it, it was enough to have trusting contacts.
"TOMORROW". General Bartenev, deputy head of the Analytical Department of the First Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR, told me in an interview: during the events in Czechoslovakia in 1968, he was present as a military translator during conversations with the head of the KGB Andropov with the leaders of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. The Czechs told Andropov many unpleasant things about the behavior of Alexander Dubchek. What can you say about Czechoslovak friends of the KGB at a time of trouble for Czechoslovakia?
I was also informed by competent people that in 60's, Soviet foreign intelligence carried out, as they say in those circles, undercover in the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. Tell me, how could this be, if from 1953 onwards, the penetration of socialist countries into the leadership of the socialist countries was strictly forbidden to the KGB?
Nikolay Kalyagin. Undercover work of Soviet intelligence in the European socialist countries was terminated on the orders of Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, after his meeting in the Crimea with Georgi Dimitrov. With such a proposal made Dimitrov, saying that the socialist countries from the Soviet leadership have no secrets, and therefore there is no need to recruit agents. Stalin agreed with him and gave appropriate instructions, which was issued in the form of a decision of the Central Committee of the CPSU. Then this decision was confirmed and strictly adhered to by the KGB of the USSR.
As for the possible meetings of Yuri Andropov with some secretaries of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1968, they cannot be considered as meetings with agents. Such an understanding is complete absurdity, and if a former employee of state security says so, then this indicates his obvious professional incompetence.
Speaking of Andropov, as the chairman of the KGB of the USSR, we should not forget that he headed this department in 1967 year, and before that he worked as Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, head of the CPSU Central Committee department, who oversaw the relations of the CPSU with the fraternal parties of socialist countries. Of course, the leaders of these parties knew him well, respected and trusted him.
Such a benevolent attitude towards Yuri Vladimirovich on the part of the secretaries of the Central Committee of the fraternal parties was known to the members of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU. Therefore, he may have been entrusted with such meetings, especially since the requests to hold them came from the Czechoslovak comrades.
The events of January - September 1968 were tense, evolving transiently. The Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU with its full staff, and not only Yu. V. Andropov, dealt with this problem.
The main burden of collecting and analyzing information during those events was borne by the First Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR (PSU of the KGB of the USSR).
"TOMORROW". And to check the accuracy of the information obtained as a result of confidential conversations with representatives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, could the PGU request its agents in the West?
Nikolay Kalyagin. During the Czechoslovak events of 1968, intelligence naturally could not stand aside. Indeed, at this time it was a question of the security of the countries of the Warsaw Pact, and of the Soviet Union itself as well. She, in particular, obtained and checked through her residency in NATO countries information about the plans and specific facts of intervention of this aggressive bloc (which it has remained up to now) in the internal events of Czechoslovakia, which at that time continued to be a member of the Warsaw Pact and all other organizations of the socialist community.
"TOMORROW". Crises like the Polish and the Czechs could affect the attitude towards the heads of the special services of the countries of the socialist community? After all, it is known that the Minister of Internal Affairs of Czechoslovakia, Joseph Pavel, after entering our troops in 1968, fled to the West.
Nikolay Kalyagin. Of course they could.
"TOMORROW". Did this happen only in Czechoslovakia, or were there other incidents like Joseph Paul’s flight?
Nikolay Kalyagin. There was another escape to the West of the head of one of the directorates of the Romanian special service, Securitate. Other cases I do not remember.
"TOMORROW". In Alexandra Marinina’s detective novel “Do not interfere with the executioner”, it tells how Andropov, the ambassador to Hungary in 1956, decided to create a top-secret laboratory, where he studied extrasensory perception, to use psychics in socialist countries in the event of a crisis situation there. I do not accidentally ask this question. One former employee of the KGB of the USSR, the counterintelligence officer, told me that such a laboratory existed in the depths of his unit. He also told me absolutely fantastic things: allegedly psychics were used by the Lubyanka during the meetings of Yuri Andropov with the leaders of Czechoslovakia in 1968
Nikolay Kalyagin. I do not consider it appropriate to comment on the literary fiction of the authors of the detective genre that have multiplied too much. About your counterintelligence officer I can only say that he suffers from mania of omniscience. The fact that he told you there, I personally do not know anything.
But I would only like to note that now, unfortunately, many talented figures of cinema and theater, having turned one hundred and eighty degrees, began to blacken the history of their country and its special services.
I feel very sorry, for example, that director Gleb Panfilov in his film “In the First Circle,” based on the novel of the same name by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, showed a talented counterintelligence officer, Viktor Abakumov, a boor who allowed himself in his office to beat the physiognomy of his subordinates. By the way, the SMERSh Directorate, which was led by Viktor Semenovich Abakumov during the war years, in November 1941, was able to replay the RSHA directorate in the radio game IV - Nazi Reich reconnaissance. Due to this, the employees of Abakumov caught German saboteurs abandoned in the Moscow area, who were supposed to blow up the Moscow water supply system in the autumn of 1941 and sabotage the military factories of our capital. For the fact that this did not happen, we are obliged to thank only Abakumov, his eternal memory, and his subordinates. Which he, by the way, respected and the coast.
Kohl went to talk about movies, I note one unpleasant thing. Some Soviet actors who, in Soviet times, created images of noble intelligence officers who worked in the enemy's rear during the war, were happy to speak to my colleagues in the KGB House of Culture on Dzerzhinsky Square. These actors were surrounded by honor and respect. After August 1991, cinema heroes began to tell tales about how, because of a joke about the CPSU or some act during a trip abroad (which the actor, he said, of course, did not commit), the KGB suddenly made the Soviet actor travel abroad.
"TOMORROW". The sick place of the socialist camp were the countries of the Balkan Peninsula. We have already spoken about Romania to Ceausescu. Yugoslavia of the time of Tito, formally socialist, in fact adhered to the doctrine of non-alignment formulated by Josip Broz himself. The leader of the socialist Bulgaria, Todor Zhivkov, judging by the opinions of many competent enough people, was also not strictly pro-Soviet. In general, in the face of the security services of the Balkan countries, our country had strong allies?
Nikolay Kalyagin. We had close and fruitful relations with the Bulgarian special services, and with a high degree of trust. Therefore, I want to note that the information about the order for the removal of Pope John Paul II through the Bulgarian special services and the accusations of this from Bulgarian citizen Antonov, which was exaggerated at one time, is complete nonsense, made up at the US CIA analytical center.
At the same time, in the West, they began to distribute a letter allegedly written by John Paul II. In this letter, the late head of the Catholic Church stated that he was ready to head Solidarity and withdraw Poland from the Warsaw Pact. It is authentically known that this letter is a fake, well-worked provocation. You remember, probably, that at that time the Polish Solidarity, which was fully supported by the United States, only raised its head. Anti-Soviets from Solidarity needed political advertising as air.
The so-called “letter of John Paul II” was allegedly delivered to Yuri Andropov himself. The most interesting thing is that neither Yury Vladimirovich, nor his collaborators have seen this letter.
I can’t say anything about the special services of Yugoslavia. There was no cooperation with them after 1947 and until 1984. And I don’t know anything about a later period.
However, I think that the level of effectiveness of such cooperation, if it takes place today, is far from what we had with our Bulgarian friends. It cannot be otherwise: the development of events after the well-known joint decision of the fraternal Communist Parties on Tito, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, and therefore on Yugoslavia itself, created a high and solid wall of mistrust between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Although this wall was destroyed, nevertheless, the chill in the relations of our employees and their special services passed, and the former warmth as in those times when our country helped the Yugoslav partisans fight the fascist invaders, after the death of Marshal Tito did not become in them. And the level of relations between the special services is the axis of the reflection of the level of interstate relations.
"TOMORROW". Did these special services warn in the days of the USSR about the possibility of the growth of Islamic fundamentalism?
Nikolay Kalyagin. I think that this fact is such a reality, about which everyone knows almost everything. Islamic fundamentalism exists as much time as Islam itself, as a religion, or, if you like, as a religious ideology.
Islamic fundamentalism is now activated, then somewhat subsided. These waves depended on all sorts of external events (different wars), and on internal fights within Islam itself, in which, as in any religion, there are many different trends, often irreconcilable. The relevant divisions of the KGB of the USSR never lost sight of this trend of Islam. In the USSR, Islam was a recognized religion, but the fundamentalism of an aggressive persuasion is dangerous not only for the state, but also for Islam itself, which is essentially a moderate religion.
All the special services of civilized countries always pay special attention to the fight against terrorist organizations of any kind, including Islamic. In fairness it should be noted that in the last 15-20 years, it was the intelligence services and the Western media that were the first to raise the issue of Islamic fundamentalism.
At that time, the Soviet Union was friends with the countries of the Arab East and did not see the political expediency of ringing the danger of Islamic fundamentalism. But this does not mean that our special services did not see this danger.
In our country, they started talking about it only in connection with the revolution in Afghanistan, the external aggression of Islamic states against the young Afghan republic. And after 1991-1994, in connection with the war in Chechnya and terrorism in Dagestan, academic studies on Wahhabism and Wahhabis were brought to light, and Wahhabism was being re-launched. So Islamic fundamentalism is an eternal topic, and, as a rule, it arises when it comes to seizing political power and redistributing economic goods.
"TOMORROW". Since the KGB had a ban on agent infiltration in the socialist countries, did our agents penetrate the terrorist groups operating in these countries?
Nikolay Kalyagin. For the KGB of the USSR and its operational subdivisions there was no prohibition on undercovering into terrorist organizations and could not be, since the fight against terrorism was, and I think, remains to this day one of the main strategic tasks of our special services.
One of the main themes of cooperation with friendly and partner intelligence agencies was and still is a categorical ban on contacts, especially on cooperation with the leadership of terrorist organizations of any kind.
And the development of such organizations from the inside, the identification of their plans, intentions, objects of terrorist acts, deadlines, orders, sources of financing - this has always been the task of both intelligence and counterintelligence.