More than two decades have passed since the day when the citizens of the USSR collapsed on the heads of the citizens of the USSR who were already disappointed in Gorbachev's restructuring news - Vadim Bakatin, the last KGB chairman, gave the American ambassador in Moscow an unusual gift from 74 drawings and a short description on one sheet. Most of all, this shocked Russian officers and KGB veterans. Yes, and simple, not initiated into the games of special services by citizens of the USSR, excited by the articles of the media of those years, this event seemed like a bad dream - still, “to give to Americans easily secret documents about the system of eavesdropping? Such in stories There has never been a domestic policy or activity of the special services. ” That was the way the newspapers and magazines of those years shouted.
What did Bakatin “surrender” to the Americans? And how secret and valuable was this gift for the USA? The author of the article will try to answer these questions with the help of copies of all “Bakatin” documents and drawing on his own experience of operational and technical work in the KGB.
This story began at the end of the 1960s, when the USSR Foreign Ministry received the long-awaited finances for building more than two dozen new foreign embassies and concluded relevant bilateral agreements with many countries, including the United States. The architects enthusiastically set about preparing projects, and with them experienced quiet joy and special services, for whom the construction of new buildings provided great opportunities for the implementation of information retrieval systems. Thus, many talents got the opportunity to realize their own ideas and developments - some wanted to show their architectural mastery, while others, on the contrary, planned to work as secretly as possible, hiding even the time and place of their secret activities from their colleagues.
So, for “bugs” a new “breeding and habitat” environment was being prepared - concrete with fillers, steel framework for reinforcement, ready-made reinforced concrete structures, finishing materials. The “electronic battle fields” of the two powers, the USSR and the USA, were designated, which had already begun to prepare construction sites for new embassy buildings in Moscow and Washington. Previous practice has convincingly shown that it is impossible to leave the construction or overhaul of buildings of diplomatic missions without proper supervision - “bugs” can crawl into such places from which it will be almost impossible to pull them out without destroying the structures of the building framework.
This was well understood in Washington and in Moscow, where they began to develop countermeasures and train inspector-inspectors who were to strictly monitor the construction of local builders at all stages of construction, among which it was necessary to identify secret brigades with “bugs in their bosoms”.
After the first months of work, the inspectors-inspectors began to think about what method of supervision to follow. Theoretically, it was required to observe every worker and all building technologies. But in practice, such surveillance is impossible, since dozens and hundreds of builders of various specialties work at the construction site, and, moreover, they often change with the construction and equipment of the new building. Or maybe throw all the forces on the most important premises, where, for example, the ambassador and his cryptographers are sitting? But how then to deal with the offices of other embassy staff who also work with particularly important documents, possess secrets and can be followed up with the help of “bugs”? The conclusion suggests itself - it is impossible to keep track of all, and it is more expensive to divide diplomats according to the degree of importance, because getting a bug about the personal life of a mission officer for his subsequent recruitment can create a gap in the security of the embassy and lead to a leak state secrets.
In addition to the strategy of supervision, it was necessary to solve tactical issues. For example, is it better to secretly observe and record all suspicious actions of builders or stand pointedly behind them, preventing them from installing a radio tab, microphone, or laying a secret cable? The latter didn’t like the embassies ’security services, who said:“ You’re scaring away all the bugs, but what will we get to assess the technical potential of the enemy? No, gentlemen-comrade controllers, it is necessary to give the builders the opportunity to install a couple of “bugs!” But this turned out to be a very delicate problem - where can you be allowed to introduce “bugs” and where not? Try to find today a brave man who will take the responsibility to choose a room in order to “substitute” him for a “bug”? Most likely, none of the ambassadors or the head of the department will agree to provide their offices for the installation of “bugs”, so that later they serve the experts as samples for assessing the capabilities of the enemy! The ambassador, for example, can declare: “You, the special services, solve your problems yourself, then you and state security, and leave us alone”.
And such not simple questions were confronted by Soviet and American controllers, who had already begun their work in Washington and in Moscow at the end of the 1970s. With the similarity of tasks, the controllers worked in completely different conditions. At the Moscow construction site, the situation was under the control of the omnipotent KGB, which, having received “good” from the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU as early as 1969, systematically implemented operational and technical combinations, including pioneer student volunteers and Sunday workers, who caused complete chaos in the attempts of American specialists to establish a systematic check , accounting and control of imported building materials and finished structures coming from concrete plants located near Moscow.
AMERICAN INSECTS PAID IN TIME
In the American capital, the construction of new Soviet buildings was led by one of the largest private firms, which, of course, was not formally subordinate to the US government. And she didn’t want to risk her business reputation, being in the center of the scandal in case of detection of “bugs”. However, a press conference in February 1980 in the USA sounded like a bomb blast, at which Soviet diplomats demonstrated more than a dozen “bugs” put into operation by American builders along with new residential apartments. One of the “bugs” found inside a huge reinforced concrete column had the piquant inscription “Fuck you”, which caused shock to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who was considered a supporter of elegant and flexible diplomacy. Vance disgustedly called "shit" photos of American special equipment, delicately shown by the head of the USSR Embassy.
However, the Soviet success in Washington later turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory, because he untied his hands to the controllers in Moscow, to the aid of which specialists from the CIA and the Pentagon arrived. As American media wrote, “the Moscow construction site began to actively apply the experience of the Soviet inspectors, who x-rayed the concrete columns and boldly destroyed already finished building structures with a jackhammer”. CIA specialists in Moscow began to copy the Soviet experience of identifying "bugs" and went further, sending a reinforced concrete column to Langley by diplomatic mail for a special, objective examination.
The results were so stunning that the Americans sent a letter with indignation to Gorbachev himself, who was then personally visited by the American ambassador, showing the “young” general secretary of the photo of the suspicious building frame filling. Puzzled, Gorbachev tried to reassure the ambassador, citing the specifics of the restructuring he had begun, which had touched, most likely by mistake, on the new American building in Moscow. Having dealt with the ambassador, Gorbachev ordered the KGB chairman Kryuchkov to immediately curtail all secret work at an American construction site in Moscow. Vladimir Alexandrovich decided not to quarrel and, with his order, “froze” all the special works in 1986.
However, Gorbachev’s friendly assurances did not reassure the Americans, who expressed their emotions in the foreign media, which gave Ronald Reagan one of his strategic anti-Soviet "tricks". The president of the United States has previously called the USSR an “evil empire,” and has now received this “concrete evidence.” And in order to slightly besiege the Soviet leader, who had gained increasing popularity abroad and was losing support in his own country at the same speed, Reagan billed Gorbachev in 200 million dollars to rebuild the American building in Moscow. Gorbachev tried to resist and ordered to hold a press conference already in the Moscow press center, where American “bugs” showed to journalists, found at various times in Soviet missions to the USA.
In response, the US State Department banned the relocation of the Soviet embassy to new buildings in Washington, which hurt diplomats and other agencies who were housed in a small old building. There was a stalemate with two new complexes in Moscow and the United States, which could not be used.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, American experts began a systematic survey of the structure of their building, closing the empty window openings with wooden panels and not being distracted by the Moscow workers, who were barred from entering the construction site. They began to remove pieces of intertwined cables from the concrete frame, sometimes strange reinforcement from various metals was found, and other incomprehensible objects were found, which according to the project should not be. Restless politicians with a rich imagination were quick to speak out about the “huge electronic ear of the KGB,” which was greatly liked by the lively journalists, and the media smashed this sensation all over the world. However, experts were not in a hurry with assessments and more and more often asked themselves the question - what is the essence of this complex KGB system?
The case, or rather, Vadim Bakatin, who accidentally fell into the chair of the KGB, helped him out of the impasse, who, fulfilling the instructions of two presidents, Yeltsin and Gorbachev, presented the US ambassador in Moscow with a set of drawings with a short, single-sheet descriptive part. It listed the numbers of columns, beams and crossbars with elements of special equipment, as well as devices, designated by special terms.
Let us try to understand these documents in order to understand the purpose, value and uniqueness of everything that Bakatin "passed".
"KGB ELECTRONIC EAR"
The main drawing of the building frame shows concrete supports, vertical columns, beams, as well as parts of the foundation slab. Inside these structures are designated cable routes with intermediate connectors, special containers with additional cables and connectors. At the ends and sides of reinforced concrete columns, foam concrete plugs are shown (for quick opening of these places) with “switches” inside, which could be used to connect new cables with information pick-up sensors during the final period of interior decoration of the building, during erection of brick and panel fencing (which was not due to the construction stop). In the drawings of vertical columns, special “contactless transitions” are also indicated (in the documents they are called BP). With the help of power supply units operating as high-frequency capacitors, each lower vertical column with a cable route section inside could be connected to the next vertical column, and thus, all individual cable sections switched to a single wired system, from the foundation to the upper floors of the building and further , to the final elements of information retrieval (in case of continued construction).
According to the description given by Bakatin, “concrete chemical power sources” were placed inside the two building structures (indicated as BHIT in the drawings), possibly for the power supply of electronic units hidden there as well as two microphones installed, most likely for acoustic control over the actions of American controllers on the upper floors of the building, where in the future rooms with secret information and electronic equipment of the US Embassy could be located. The presence of microphones in this part of the frame of an uncompleted building may indicate increased attention to the actions of American controllers, who were to carefully monitor all the actions of Soviet builders, and at night and on weekends visually and with the help of various equipment examine the framework elements of the upper floors . It can be assumed that, listening to the conversations of Americans, the KGB tried to understand the results of the work of the inspectors in order to hide or remove the detected or suspicious building detail with special elements inside.
One more “information for reflection” - on drawings No. 61 and No. 65 of horizontal reinforced concrete structures, called in the documents as “beams”, “pieces of plastic pipes of small diameter” are shown. By analogy with the basement drawings, it can be assumed that these elements were to be used in the future for laying cables for microphones and information pickup sensors.
The description also shows the numbers of two crossbars, where special “P” sensors are installed, and in separate drawings these places are called “sections of insulated reinforcement”. It is very likely that such a system could be used as an antenna for receiving radio and magnetic radiation from communications equipment, encryption, etc., which are often located on the upper floors of diplomatic missions.
At the end of the descriptive part of the “Bakatin” documents it is stated that “the listed elements are not integrated into the systems for receiving information and do not presently pose a threat to the security of the embassy”. Indeed, in the drawings there is no confirmation that the individual parts of the cables are connected to a single wired system. It is likely that Bakatin “passed” the unfinished interception system consisting of a large number of separate cables and connectors hidden in concrete columns and beams, which later had to be connected to sensors, microphones and other information retrieval devices. It is possible that these terminal devices were not installed in accordance with the order of Gorbachev and in connection with the Americans stopping construction at the planning and finishing stage.
The documents handed over to the Americans indicate the locations of such special systems as concrete-chemical power sources, high-frequency transitions between vertical columns, methods and places for hiding containers under the surface of building structures, special “P” sensors and much more. The conclusion suggests itself - the “Bakatinsky” gift clearly helped the American specialists in finding installation sites and deciphering the purpose of the KGB special equipment. It can be assumed that the “Bakatinsky” documents enabled the US Department of State to solve the problem of protecting a building in Moscow by demolishing the two upper floors and building four new ones, but using their own resources.
What goals did Bakatin pursue, handing over a set of secret drawings to the US ambassador? Perhaps it was the desire to please their superiors, Gorbachev and Yeltsin, and the very idea could be prompted by Bakatin by his American consultants, who were at that time in Moscow. The usual amateurism of the last KGB chairman, who simply did not understand the irresponsibility of his act and probably wanted to look original at the height of the political games of that period, cannot be ruled out.
In various articles about the “gift of Bakatin”, opinions were expressed that the Americans themselves, knowing from practice about the clever operational combinations of the KGB, could not completely believe all these documents and suggest that, in addition to the “donated” special equipment, the Russians have others Not yet implemented information retrieval systems that will wait for a suitable situation for their implementation or inclusion. It is possible that such a time has come.