Thursday, January 3, 2019

Soviets Prohibited KGB from Recruiting Deputies, Judges and Prosecutors

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 2 – With the opening of the KGB archives in Latvia, so much attention has been paid to those the KGB recruited as informers and agents that another lesson from them has been lost: in Soviet times, the CPSU banned its secret police from recruiting deputies at all levels, judges and prosecutors.

            It is clear from an examination of the instructions found in those archives, Russian researcher Boris Lvin says, that the KGB viewed those it recruited as “second class” people, individuals that the regime could not trust, and who could be kept in line only by compromat (

                That is clear, he continues. if one considers the rules that were imposed on the KGB by the Soviet government concerning whom the organs could not recruit: “members of the CPSU and Komsomol elected to party and Komsomol committees, secretaries of primary party and Komsomol organizations, responsible employees of party and Komsomol apparatuses, the political organs of the Armed Services of the USSR, the deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Supreme Soviets of union and autonomous republics and local Soviets of peoples deputies, trade union officials, judges, and prosecutors.”

            Such people, the KGB leadership specified, could not be used as agents, residents, or be involved in conspiratorial activities of any kind.

            The “immunity” of soviet deputies down to the lowest levels was a surprise for him, Lvin says, especially since it extended to the apparatuses of each level where real decisions were made.  Also surprising, given Soviet realities, was the immunity of trade union workers. It appears that this flows from the Soviet state’s ideological conception of itself.

            Also unexpected in their immunity in Soviet times were judges and prosecutors, given their role in the system.  Also, and again unexpectedly, it appears that the KGB was banned from recruiting as agents any officer of the rank of colonel or above.  Thus many people who were very much part of the Soviet state were kept beyond the grip of the KGB in this way.

            This 1983 instruction also specifies that records of agents are to be destroyed “in the case of their deaths or enrollment as employees of the KGB and Ministry of Internal Affairs,” the researcher says.  The reference to the Ministry has been crossed out, apparently according to a new instruction the following year.

            That implies that the status of those who go to work for the interior ministry was reduced at that time relative to those who joined the KGB. This also implies that those who go to work for the interior ministry have by that act ended their cooperation with the KGB, otherwise the distinction would be irrelevant.

            All these issues require more research, but they are a reminder that the KGB archives are important not only because of the people listed as its agents but also as an explanation for why others weren’t – something that provides a certain nuance to those who are listed because with only the slightest change in status the Soviet organs wouldn’t have taken them on.

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