[Article] KGB Training Manuals Revealed

Interpreter Staff, November 1st, 2018

Last year and earlier this year, Michael Weiss, The Interpreter’s founding editor, published a series of four articles (here and here) in the Daily Beast on hitherto secret KGB training manuals.

While some Western intelligence agencies or government specialists may have had some of the manuals in the past, they were not made available to the general public until now.

The still-classified manuals expose the devious methods of the Soviet Union’s secret police not only to surveil but suborn their own citizens and foreigners in a vast project to extend the Kremlin’s power around the world. These internal documents from the 1970s and 1980s were used in an era before the Internet and mass electronic surveillance. Yet what is most intriguing about them is that these same methods are still used today — and now amplified with new technology.

The Interpreter obtained a total of eight KGB manuals, four of which were used in Weiss’ series. Now we are making all these manuals available to be downloaded in the Russian original, and also providing some translations of the table of contents and notes and summary translations of the contents for four of the manuals not previously covered.

(For a glossary of Soviet/Russian espionage terms, see 20th Committee.)

First, the four manuals covered in the Daily Beast articles:

1) From Russia’s Secret Espionage Archives: The Art of the Dangle

In 1973, a former CIA operations officer in Latin America walked into the KGB rezidentura in Mexico City with what he claimed was a tranche of invaluable secrets about the United States’ covert operations in the hemisphere. The “resident,” or Soviet station chief, was wary of too-good-to-be-true offers coming from seeming Western volunteers. So, believing he’d been sent an obvious double agent bearing conspiratorial gifts from Langley, the spymaster showed Philip Agee the door.

Oleg Kalugin, at that time the head of counterintelligence for the KGB’s First Chief Directorate, which handled the Soviet Union’s foreign intelligence, would later tell that tale with chagrin: “Agee then went to the Cubans who welcomed him with open arms. The Cubans shared Agee’s information with us. But as I sat in my office in Moscow reading reports about the growing list of revelations coming from Agee, I cursed our officers for turning away such a prize.”

That “prize,” as Kalugin further noted, had “reams” of actionable intelligence about ongoing CIA operations, including the names of 250 covert operatives in the Americas, and was a propaganda windfall. Agee published a book, Inside the Company: A CIA Diary, that became a best seller in 1975, and in the years to come Agee, by then a Soviet agent codenamed “PONT,” would be used to help compromise some 2,000 CIA officers whose identities were quietly provided by the KGB for publication in the Covert Action Information Bulletin (which was actually founded “on the initiative of the KGB,” as the agency’s former archivist Vasili Mitrokhin noted), and in a book he co-edited called Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe.


The complete article is available from the Interpreter website.


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