Military Review

How was Russian military counterintelligence born?

How was Russian military counterintelligence born?

February 3, the first national counter-espionage service was created - the General Staff Intelligence Division

Employees of the Russian military counterintelligence agencies celebrate their professional holiday, December 19 - on this day in 1918, the resolution was made to establish the Special Department of the Cheka, which was entrusted with this difficult work. But in fairness it should be noted that the exact birthday of the domestic military counterintelligence should be considered February 3 (January 20 old style) 1903 of the year. It was on this day that the Minister of War, Adjutant General Alexei Kuropatkin, submitted a memorandum to Emperor Nicholas II “On the establishment of the Intelligence Division of the General Staff”.

Alexey Kuropatkin. Photo: Historical War Museum

This is how the minister justified the need for a new structure: “Until now, the discovery of state crimes of a military nature was a matter of pure chance, the result of the special energy of individuals or coincidence of happy circumstances, which means that it is possible to assume that most of these crimes remain unsolved threatens the state with significant danger in case of war. To impose measures to detect persons engaged in this criminal activity on the Police Department would not seem appropriate, firstly, because the named institution has its own tasks and cannot devote sufficient forces or funds to this, and secondly, because in this case, which relates exclusively to the military department, the full and diverse military competence is required of the executors. Therefore, it would be desirable to establish a special military body responsible for the search for these crimes in order to preserve military secrets. The activity of this body should consist in establishing the secret oversight of the ordinary ways of secret military intelligence, which have foreign military agents as their starting point, the end points - persons in our public service and engaged in criminal activities, and the connecting links between them - sometimes a number of agents, intermediaries in the transfer of information.

Such an approach to military counterintelligence was not demonstrated by any predecessor of Kuropatkin as military minister. Even the legendary Barclay de Tolly, through the efforts of which in the 1812, appeared in the Russian army "the superior military police" - the predecessor of both intelligence and counterintelligence, focused it mainly on intelligence activities. 27 January 1812, the emperor Alexander I signed the documents on the creation of the highest military police, but the only direct indication concerning counter-espionage is contained only in one of them - in the “Additional rules and comments” to the “Instructions to the Chief of General Staff for the management of the higher military police”. And it sounds like this: “About enemy spies. § 23. Enemy spies should certainly be punished by death in public before the army and with all sorts of publicity. § 24. Their pardon is allowed in that case, when, being caught, they will give themselves important news, which will subsequently be confirmed by incidents. § 25. Until this verification of the information they provide, they must be kept under the strongest guard ”. So in 1903, military counterintelligence as a service-oriented service was created in Russia for the first time.

At first, the scope of the Exploration Department’s activities extended exclusively to St. Petersburg and its environs: the main targets were the “military agents,” as military attachés at the time were called, and they worked at the embassies located in the capital. Accordingly, the staff of the new special service was also small. The report of Kuropatkin states: “At the Main Headquarters, it would be appropriate to establish a special Exploration Department, placing its chief officer and head officer at the head of its department and introducing its chief officer and clerk. For the direct detective work of this department, it would be necessary to use the services of private individuals - detectives on free employment, a constant number of which, until ascertaining its experience, it would be possible to limit to six people. ”

A new special service is located in St. Petersburg on Tavricheskaya Street, at number 17. During the first year, the staff of the Exploration Division was exactly what the Minister of War described him. The head of the department was Vladimir Lavrov, former head of the Tiflis security department, captain of the Separate corps of gendarmes, his former colleague, retired provincial secretary Vladimir Pereshivkin became a senior observant agent. From the Tiflis security department, they transferred to the service of the ex-chief and the first two “observant agents” - gendarme extra-urgent non-commissioned officers Anisim Isaenko and Alexander Zatsarinsky. The rest of the agents were recruited in the process, initially without devoting them to all the subtleties and secrets of the department’s work: as Lavrov himself wrote about it, “some of them will be inappropriate on closer examination and will have to be removed”. The emphasis on preserving the maximum conspiracy was completely justified and was made from the first days of the department’s existence. Even in a memorandum about this, it was said specifically: “The official establishment of this branch would seem inconvenient in the sense that it loses the main chance for the success of its activities, precisely the secret of its existence. Therefore, it would be desirable to create a projected branch without resorting to its official establishment. ”

According to Vladimir Lavrov’s report on 1903, the first year of the exploration department’s existence has already produced significant results. The observation of the military agents of the major powers - Austria-Hungary, Germany and Japan, revealed not only their own reconnaissance efforts, but also agents from among Russian subjects, first of all, officials and officers. It was on the basis of information obtained in 1903 that at the end of February 1904 was arrested a staff officer on special assignments at the main quartermaster, Captain Ivkov, who was the source of information for the Japanese military attache.

Alas, the first successes of the new service almost became the last. In July 1904, the International Spying Department of the Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was established, a year later renamed IV (secret) diplomatic department of the Special Section of the Police Department. It existed until the summer of 1906, but during these two years it managed to seriously damage the lives of colleagues from the Exploration Department. As Vladimir Lavrov wrote about this, “relying on the exclusive rights of the Police Department and having means many times superior to those of the Intelligence Division, the designated organization began to take over the supervision of the Intelligence Division, not excluding land military agents, to outbid those who worked for the Intelligence Division offices, or simply forbid them to serve the department and generally prevent it from doing so, and then began to invade the General Directorate of the General Staff: to illustrate the correspondence entsiyu officers and establish them under surveillance. "

After the elimination of competitors, the Exploration Division existed for another four years, until the end of 1910. By this time, Captain Lavrov managed to get the rank of colonel and the Order of St. Vladimir: the Russian throne highly appreciated his achievements in the field of counterintelligence. In August, 1910, Lavrov, was replaced by gendarme colonel Vasily Erandakov, who served in that post for less than a year. 8 June 1911 of the year Minister of War Vladimir Sukhomlinov approved the “Provision on counter-intelligence units”, which introduced those in all military districts of Russia and separately in St. Petersburg. The first Russian counterintelligence, the Intelligence Division at the General Staff, was transformed into the St. Petersburg counterintelligence department.

And the first head of the exploration department, Colonel Vladimir Lavrov, retired with the rank of major general. In 1911, he moved to live in France, where he took up the exact opposite of his previous work: the creation of the first Russian intelligence agency in Western Europe - “organization No. 30”, which operated against Germany. How successful this work was, and what the fate of Lavrov was, is unknown: this information was lost forever in the First World War fire that swept Europe.
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  1. Nehist
    Nehist 7 February 2016 07: 17
    Dear author! Counterintelligence in Russia existed much earlier! Just in those days there was no difference between internal and external. The same order of robberies was engaged in counterintelligence functions, and a special order at the synod! He so generally combined the functions of political militia, foreign intelligence and counterintelligence.
    1. cap
      cap 7 February 2016 07: 29
      Quote: Nehist
      He so generally combined the functions of political militia, foreign intelligence and counterintelligence.

      Cut it! +++
    2. inkass_98
      inkass_98 7 February 2016 07: 49
      In fact, the author wanted to emphasize the period when intelligence and counterintelligence acquired their current features, divided into "firms" and each took up their own business. Until that time, the ambassadorial order was in charge of intelligence affairs, but along the way laughing , although now no one has removed the etif of functions from it soldier .
      1. Nehist
        Nehist 7 February 2016 08: 07
        Diplomats and so on are all scouts :)
        1. tol100v
          tol100v 7 February 2016 21: 44
          Quote: Nehist
          Diplomats and so on are all scouts :)

          No, diplomats are diplomats, an attaché is an attaché, and there are also cultural advisers, especially at the SGA embassy in Moscow!
    3. Mushroom
      Mushroom April 20 2016 12: 02
      The synod was under Peter I, and the Secret Order before Peter
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 7 February 2016 08: 03
    Together with Lavrov, 40 officers of various military branches arrived for testing. On the oral exam, candidates were asked all kinds of questions about the latest reforms, about public organizations, their functions and relationships, and about the state structure of the Russian Empire. Contemporaries said that they asked such questions:
    "Do you smoke?
    - I smoke.
    - How many matches fit in a box?
    Or such: "Do you play screw?
    - I'm playing.
    - What is painted on the tambourine ace?
    If an officer found it difficult to answer such questions, he was told: "You have no observation." And the exam failed. After the oral examination, the candidate was asked to write an essay, usually on a historical or legal topic ...
  3. midshipman
    midshipman 7 February 2016 08: 04
    My ancestors, whom I managed to find out about, worked in this area of ​​protecting our state. Back in the Patriotic War of 1812, a couple of great ... grandfathers fought with Count P.Kh. Wittgenstein, received an officer's rank for his merits (he was a serf, but literate). Simultaneously with the count, he was wounded in 1814 and left for the Vitebsk province (already to his estate). On the mother's side, staff captain M. Burunov fought in the Far East, was also seriously wounded and left for Minsk. In the novel "Ice Wall" I tried to describe the activities of counterintelligence in protecting the interests of the Russian state.
    I take this opportunity to congratulate my good friend Dubinsky, Yu.M. Happy holiday of this type of armed forces of the country. Yuri Mikhailovich was for a long time the Deputy Head of counterintelligence of our country (this is already in our time) and the chief of my son. But the son is already working in another field and has become a famous scientist. I have the honor.
    1. creak
      creak 7 February 2016 11: 56
      Quote: midshipman
      In the novel "Ice Wall" I tried to describe the activities of counterintelligence in protecting the interests of the Russian state. I take this opportunity to congratulate my good friend Dubinsky Yu.M. happy holiday of this branch of the country's armed forces

      Since you described the activities of counterintelligence bodies in your novel, you are supposed to know that counterintelligence bodies have never been a type of armed forces (SV, Navy ...) - at different times their subordination was different (SMERSH was even a member of the NPO of the USSR as the main department .)
      In the post-war period, military counterintelligence was generally one of the KGB commanders and was represented in the USSR Armed Forces by special departments ...
      You know Dubinsky well, you write novels about counterintelligence, but it seems that you don’t have a clue about the structure of the Armed Forces and the place of counterintelligence bodies in them ... Somehow it does not fit with one another - you confuse basic things ...
      1. tol100v
        tol100v 7 February 2016 22: 09
        Quote: ranger
        . Somehow it does not fit with one another - you confuse basic things ...

        Not so simple, but if in a nutshell, you can read books about heroic scouts, and even more superhero counterintelligence. But, a good question arises: - and whose profession is ancient? In order not to rack their brains, go to Dill, there are all the very, very-super-duper!
    2. tol100v
      tol100v 7 February 2016 21: 55
      Quote: midshipman
      Take this opportunity

      I take this opportunity to ask: And for what? And I just don’t believe it! If the MAN served, or his close or distant served, then HE will never give a hint about it! And it can even pass by this body with a big obscenity! (You can in Spanish) or by choice!
  4. Nehist
    Nehist 7 February 2016 08: 11
    In general, no matter how much I love the Specialists, their business is necessary and important, it is more difficult for them than intelligence.
    1. Kirill
      Kirill 7 February 2016 12: 52
      Nobody loves specialists, especially agents
  5. semirek
    semirek 7 February 2016 08: 56
    I think that the peak of counterintelligence activity falls on the years of the Second World War and after, Nazi Germany sent agents of all stripes to us - there was no end to the work bodies, I remember the title of the book I read many years ago - "two-faced Janus", just about this time.
    1. Kirill
      Kirill 7 February 2016 12: 55
      Well, why !? In the first world counterintelligence also worked very actively. Only about this period is not a lot of research.
  6. rotmistr60
    rotmistr60 7 February 2016 09: 54
    The work of the military counterintelligence is not only complicated, but also painstaking and most importantly this work with people. On it, along with the main tasks of combating espionage and protecting secrets, lies the identification and closure of the channels for the theft of weapons and much more, up to the hazing relationships that can lead to an emergency. If the territorial bodies work in areas (someone is engaged in espionage, someone in the economy, etc.), then the military counterintelligence operas all pull one.
  7. Baloo
    Baloo 7 February 2016 10: 52
    A good article, I welcome the attention and revival of the traditions of the Russian army, although he himself never served (in stock, there was a military man at the institute) hi .
    Is the story of the "conspiracy of the wise men of Zion" an invention of the Russian counterintelligence or the success of an agent under a woman's name who wrote off the "conspiracy" of one of the authors for big money, who was killed under unknown circumstances after the document was published in Russia?
    Legend has it that the agent’s information was always accurate, coming from different parts of the world. There was a pause during the revolution and civil war. Last post in 1947
    The agent categorically refused personal meetings and money. That is the legend. Has anyone read about the details? hi
    1. Faust
      Faust 30 October 2016 18: 25
      On the rutrekere, download the book Unknown Nilus.
  8. Cap.Morgan
    Cap.Morgan 7 February 2016 12: 00
    However, German spies in World War I worked very actively.
    There was a network in Nikolaev. That only is the explosion on the battleship "Empress Maria".
    There were no permanent counterintelligence representatives in the troops. Specialists.
    So alas.
  9. Igor V
    Igor V 7 February 2016 19: 53
    I’m in military service, once I didn’t let a special officer go to a combat post, out of ignorance. fool He was in the rank of captain and with blue shoulder straps (a pilot or something?). In the end, we talked peacefully with him, "and about me - ask the commander." After a while, the chief of communications came running, torturing for a long time what I told him. Subsequently, this special officer always greeted me warmly, even consulted about fishing gear. In conversations, no, no, yes, and will insert some question, but I immediately felt these questions. And we didn't seem to have any secrets. There was the impression that in the whole regiment, only I was not afraid of him, the commander, the colonel, was already sweating when I stood at attention in front of him. smile
    1. SlavaP
      SlavaP 7 February 2016 21: 52
      Ha ha! You need to be friends with special officers - (folk officer wisdom)
  10. Jääkorppi
    Jääkorppi 8 February 2016 09: 04
    Kuropatkin Kuroki in practice, gives lessons on tactics ...
  11. Mushroom
    Mushroom April 20 2016 12: 01
    Phew, how illiterate. We must begin with the Secret Order