What Was The KGB And Why Was It So Feared?

A recent British inquiry into the suspicious death of former KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had likely authorized his killing While it is unclear whether these claims are true, the silencing of dissent is not out of character for the former Soviet security agency, the KGB

So, what exactly was the KGB, and why was it so feared in its time? Well, the KGB or the “Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti” was the Soviet Union’s security and foreign intelligence agency It operated from 1954 to 1991 When the Soviet Union collapsed it was replaced by the FSK and then the FSB, in the new Russian Federation Both have served similar security functions to the KGB During its existence, unlike other country’s security agencies, the KGB was effectively an independent government body, with little oversight by Russian leaders

The organization performed a combination of duties, including intelligence gathering, border security, and propaganda enforcement However, most controversially it operated as Russia’s secret police and domestic surveillance unit More than half a million people were employed by the KGB, with thousands of international spies At the time it was the single largest institution of it’s kind Around the world, the KGB gathered information by using “legal resident spies”, which were Soviet citizens given permission to be in other countries by way of working in embassies or similar international grounds

They would be able to claim diplomatic immunity if caught Russia also had illegal spies, with no immunity, and although it was riskier, they were able to more easily integrate without immediate suspicion Domestically, the KGB was feared as the country’s secret police They would seek out those suspected of being anti-communist, or anti-government, and frequently search their homes, and arrest dissidents They established individual departments for controlling religious activity, subversive nationalism, foreign influence, unauthorized media, and specifically the Jewish population

The KGB even worked against heads of state who threatened the stability of Soviet ideology In 1964, former and acting KGB officers staged what has been considered a nonviolent coup d’état of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, replacing him with Leonid Brezhnev However, the next attempted coup by the KGB was not as successful In 1991, as Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev began implementing reforms, he was arrested by the KGB, who feared a loss of power Although the coup failed after two days, it has been pointed to as a major contributor to the rapid destabilization of the Soviet Union and its collapse that same year

The KGB was a long feared organization, and a huge source of tension for the United States during the Cold War Although it was dissolved alongside the Soviet Union, the current Russian President Vladimir Putin was himself a KGB officer from 1975 to 1991 Which may be why, many question whether the influence and methods of the KGB are truly gone from Russian government is a contentious issue in the political sphere The death of Alexander Litvinenko was certainly suspicious To see a timeline of his alleged poisoning, check out our video at the top

For a more in depth look at Russia’s problems with corruption, see the video down below Thanks for watching Test Tube News, don’t forget to like and subscribe for new videos, every day!

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