What does KGB stand for?
KGB stands for the “Komitet Gosundarstvennoy Bezopasnosti” which means Committee for State Security in the English language. It was the USSR’s main intelligence unit from 1954 to 1991. After 1991, it was replaced by the FSB or Federal Security Service. The KGB was tasked to be the Soviet Union’s primary organization for intelligence and internal security.
KGB involved itself in international espionage in both legal and illegal ways. Their common modus operandi was to recruit spies who may be legal residents of a foreign country. These “legal” agents are said to have diplomatic immunity, wherein they are just sent back to the Soviet Union in case their activities are compromised in the foreign country. But the KGB also recruited other spies with illegal residency to some foreign countries. These types of spies do not have special privileges like diplomatic immunity but are said to penetrate targets more quickly. KGP espionage activities may be political in nature, economic manipulation, or strategic military moves. Some activities also involve public disinformation.
Part of KGB’s mission is to protect the country through brutal prosecution of leftists or dissidents and strict enforcement of security in border regions. Police practices and activities were said to be very harsh and ruthless to minimize or stop civil disorder. Aside from border protection, the KGB also involved itself with internal counter-intelligence along with espionage on foreign countries. It also was involved with prison or jail management, along with conducting very extensive investigations on citizens for crimes against the state like treason.
The KGB operates with various departments called directorates. One such directorate is involved with its foreign operations (First Chief Directorate). For political manipulation and control internally, the Second Chief Directorate was in-charge. Other directorates were for military and political intelligence projects, for internal security programs, and for wide-scale surveillance.
The powers of the KGB were considered to be very strong and cover a very wide scope. Former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev eventually ordered the KGB to be re-organized because it was then considered too powerful for an intelligence and security organization.