On November 24 to 25, “The Glasnost Foundation” conducted a conference in Moscow, Russia devoted to the current state of the Russian Security Service.

Among nearly forty speakers, which included former President Yeltsin, advisor Georgi Satarov, Minister of Environment Alexi Yablokov, President of Radio “Echo of Moscow” Andrei Cherkizov, lawyer of Edmond Pope – Pavel Astakhov, victims of recent FSB persecutions, environmentalists Alexander Nikitin and Grigory Pasko, the conference provided a speech prepared by MCA professor, retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin.

The text of General Kalugin’s speech follows:

Last March, a week after Vladimir Putin was elected president of Russia, I wrote an article titled “The Triumph of hte KGB.”

Among the other things I said in it: only a while ago, shattered and humiliated by the collapse of the old regime, subjected to numerous reorganizations and public denunciation, the Russian Security Service appeared to be in the state of havoc. Hordes of the most experienced officers bolted from the service in disgust or in search of a better fortune. Many rushed into the booming private sector, others joined the underworld. Those who stayed, were directed to root out organized crime, but they did not know how to do it. The cops’ routine never appealed to them, and it was somewhat frightful to raise a club over the lawbreakers: What if it strikes inadvertently some of the country’s leadership?

If they succeeded in anything, it was in maintaining the myth of a threat of foreign influence in Russia and in glorifying their own former feats in serving their Fatherland.

And now comes the irony of history: this seemingly demoralized and partially privatized power takes advantage of Yeltsin’s erratic rule, openly challenges its former masters in the election battle and wins it. The “armed vanguard” of the Communist Party, the servant of the Party apparatus – the KGB defeats the Communists, and moves triumphantly into the Kremlin!

It may sound as a paradox, but the Chekists’ victory at the ballot boxes may in fact be preferable to that of the so called “new” communists. The KGB people were generally more educated and sophisticated than their party bosses, less corrupt and better prepared to deal with realities of Russia’s everyday life.

It was former Russian President Yeltsin himself, known for his earlier vigorous rejection of Lubyanka’s heroes, who in the end of his rule, incapable of offering his nation a viable alternative, let them back into the Kremlin corridors.

Primakov, Stephashin and their ilk were the first swallows. Putin consummated the process. It’s now late to talk about “the KGB today, tomorrow.” This is no longer a ministry, a service. It’s the power, the authority. Better than that of Zuganov, Anpilov, Makashov. However, to picture the KGB gang as saviors or miracle workers capable of leading the country out of the current quagmire would be entirely out of place. From Chekism to Bolshevism is but one step. The difference lies in that the Chekists, holding a club over their countrymen’s heads, know how to more gracefully and dexterously handle it, than the dumb party apparatchiks.

Remember our history. Who was the first to create government controlled trade unions in Russia? Colonel Zubatov of the Tsarist Secret Police. Who initiated the appearance of the first “legitimate” rock-clubs in Russia, first exhibitions of “prohibited” artists, first publication of “banned” authors? The Leningrad Regional KGB office. Who commissioned the first non-communists political party in the USSR, the Liberal-Democratic Party? The KGB of the USSR.

Today, the Chekist power in Russia has the whole country and all of its resources at its disposal. It’s no longer necessary to jail political opponents or critics of the regime, There exists an arsenal of tools outside the courtrooms to finish them off: blackmail, economic pressure, the use of criminal elements, character assassination of undesirable individuals with the help of hirelings in the “non-government” media.

At the dawn of the Bolshevik revolution, one Russian poet, fiery proponent of its virtues, called on his comrades in the fine arts to turn a pen into a bayonet. His passionate appeal found hearty response in the party-Chekist organs. An army of informers from literature and journalism would malign and defame dissenters even before they were locked in Lubyanka’s dungeons. Nazi leader Goebells appreciated highly that sort of people. He called them “ideological snipers.”

How naïve many of us were several years ago, believing that our home-made snipers were no longer in demand, that journalism, directed by the Party Central Committee and manipulated by the KGB, passed away.

Open today, the so called “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” or “Izvestia: or semi-official “Rossiskaya Gazeta” – I’ll skip by “Pravda,” “Zavtra,” “Sovruska,” for they have simply become more vulgar than ever, and you’ll read hacks like Malevanny, Maslov, Khorlamov picking up greedily leftover scraps cleaned by their KGB handlers from their desks.

Other media people, in all likelihood no longer committed to work for the State Security, went further. Sick and tired of endless promises to restore law and order in the country they welcomed the arrival of the KGB “old guard” to the scene. “Who is afraid of KGB Generals?” headlined one influential Moscow paper its story about the KGB’s comeback. The author, Alexander Minkin, well known until recently as a harsh critic of Communism, lauds former Soviet intelligence agents as valiant, honest, disciplined professionals, patriots of Russia. “In my opinion,” says Minkin, “a KGB General is better than and IMF agent … no American was upset by the fact that the CIA director George Bush landed in the chair of the US President. What’s bad about it?”

As for the Americans, Minkin is right. Neither Bush’s nor his predecessors’ careers were overshadowed by ghosts of millions of human lives destroyed in torture chambers of the secret police or Gulag, there was no stifling atmosphere of fear, humiliation and distrust of people in the USA inherited from previous generations

As for Russia, a country with no traditions of democracy or civic society, the advancement of former secret police officials to the first roles in the state is an ominous sign of the forthcoming restoration of the totalitarian rule, of creeping counterrevolution. It’s typical of authoritarian states to rely on the secret police or the military when their leaders fail to manage the pressing problems of their society, feel panicky or simply do not relish the idea of advancing democratic changes.

Today, Putin personifies this system of governance. But Putin was elected by the people and his popularity rating is pretty high. So, the people deserve what they have.

Despite the abundance of published materials from the Soviet archives recounting the brutalities of Bolshevism, its spirit is still hovering over Russia. Only political spinelessness of the former Russian leadership could spark the polemics about the removal of the corpse of the instigator of the all-Russian massacre from the mausoleum. There were no polemics of this sort in Germany around the remnants of Hitler, and no Himmler portraits adorn the offices of German Special Services. And yet Hitler, and his gang were also eager to build a great socialist (National) Germany, to make every German family happy.

Only nostalgia for the good old Soviet days inspired the current Kremlin rulers to reanimate Andropov’s heritage, to openly talk about the return of the monument of “Iron Felix” to Lubyanka, about the anthem “Glory to our free Fatherland,” about the honor guard in front of the mausoleum. The symbols conform to the deeds.

The Moscow landscapes are now marred more frequently than ever by the forays of the FSB camouflaged squads on the islands of free thought. The environmentalists are branded as “tools in the hands of foreign special services.” The citizens of Russia resembling in appearance Caucasian nationals are mistreated and discriminated against, thousands of them are exterminated physically on suspicion of their involvement in “international terrorism.”

Unlike the former Soviet KGB, which saw no need in anonymity, the Russian Chekists have been disguising their activities by skillfully using the services of the Tax Police, the Customs , the Chief of Accounting office, other proliferating bureaucracies and rival organizations.

It’s no secret that the KGB, as no other power structure, was poisoned by totalitarian, Bolshevik mentality. Chekism is the very epitome of that mentality. It was born in the conspiratorial cells of the party led by Lenin, in the atmosphere of plots, intrigues and personal squabbles passed off as political differences.

And it was accompanied by hatred of the past, hatred toward the powers that be, intolerance of alien ideas, views and their carriers – people.

Fleix Dzerjinsky, “the Knight of the Revolution,” a symbol of Soviet despotism has raised a fitting breed of his admirers. His bronze statue has not been restored yet on Lubyanka Square, but his image and his deeds are still very much alive in the hearts of many thousands of his countrymen, old and young; in his portraits hanging in offices of the Russian Security Services; in his busts on the desks of their bosses; in the training programs of chekist schools.

Like cadaverous poison, which was pumped out of bloodthirsty Lenin and invisibly sank in the flesh of millions of Russians, poisoning and mortifying their memories consciousness and conscience, the indomitable work of the butcher of the revolution, the Iron Felix, left an indelible scar on the minds of his heirs.

So, no wonder, that reforms in Russia have been marking time. And the problem lies not so much in the lack of political will, but in the absence of moral imperative. Until the country cleanses its elf from the filth of Bolshevism it will never become a full member of the civilized world, however great its natural resources and nuclear arsenal may be.

It would be naïve to suggest that with the end of the Cold War the foreign intelligence services have lost interest in Russia, however their targets and precepts have undergone radical changes over the recent years. No one is going to attack Russia, no one wants to weaken it or see it disintegrated. On the contrary, the West has been concerned with political instability, mismangement and criminality of the Russian society threatening to throw not only Russia but other countries also in the abyss of chaos and war.

Today, threats to Russia emanate not form NATO, spies, aliens or infidels, but from fools and thieves. Perhaps, their numbers have not grown since the memorable Soviet times, but under conditions of economic stagnation, poverty and total demoralization of the people their chances to perpetuate themselves power and finish off Russia are greater than ever.

Oleg D. Kalugin
Major General
Former People’s Deputy of the USSR
April 2000

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the Daily Report on Russia and the Former Soviet Republics.

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