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The Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopanosti of the Soviet Union, also known as the KGB, was established in March 1954 in Moscow. This organization was originally designed to be a state security committee and was attached to the Council of Ministers. However, it operated more independently than any of the other bodies of government within the Soviet Union. The KGB was the world’s largest spy and state-security machine, involved in all aspects of life of everyday people in the Soviet Union. The KGB was a secretive and secluded organization, and it has been said that, “Its doors are shut tightly to the public.” The KGB was divided into different departments, each run by a representative whose purpose was to ensure the observations of the security regulations. More than 500,000 people worked within the KGB and there were thousands of agents abroad. The 1977 Soviet Constitution stated that the Council of Ministers would coordinate and direct the work of the Ministries and state committees, including the KGB. On July 5, 1978, a new law was passed and changed the status of the KGB, and made its chairman a member of the Council of Ministers.
The main duties of the KGB were to gather intelligence in other nations, conduct counterintelligence, maintain the secret police, the KGB military corps and the border guards, suppress internal resistance, and conduct electronic espionage. The KGB also enforced Soviet morals and promoted Soviet ideology with propaganda. The agents in this department made sure that only the information that should be allowed in public was released.

Like most Soviet organizations, the KGB fell apart in the late 1980s. After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power he began to make reforms within the KGB.  Offices were open to the media and interviews of the KGB officials were permitted. At the same time most of the duties of the KGB were spun off in different directions. The KGB was later renamed the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and continued to handle foreign intelligence.

Research by Stacey Crostic
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum
Cosby High School


KGB. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2010. <>.

"ORGANIZATION OF THE COMMITTEE FOR STATE SECURITY." FAS Intelligence Resource Program. N.p., Wednesday, November 26, 1997. Web. 14 May 2010. <>.


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