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Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Acronym for the Russian title “Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti,” or Committee for State Security. This was the label for the organization through which, from 1954 to 1991, the soviet union conducted its main secret police operations. The work of the KGB subsumed the interior functions of the former nkvd , while also extending into the sphere of foreign espionage. Its most notable operative was andropov , whose particularly efficient tenure as its chief lasted from 1967 to 1982 and assisted him in becoming brezhnev's successor as overall Soviet leader. By the early 1980s the KGB was employing a million officials, and using a still greater number of informers. The reductions of scale and function imposed after 1985 by gorbachev prompted some of its leading figures to support the unsuccessful coup mounted against him in August 1991. This failure hastened the demise of the KGB, which had been virtually dissolved even before the Soviet Union itself fragmented at the end of the same year. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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