Jun 30, 2020
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Why Russia illegal intelligence

... We met in a small yellow mansion at the very end of Ostozhenka - in the building of the press bureau of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia. In the courtyard of the building is a monument to Lieutenant General Pavel Mikhailovich Fitin. The layman, his name, probably will not say anything. But it was this man, who headed Soviet intelligence in 1939 at the age of 31, who led her throughout the Great Patriotic War.

The monument was opened recently, in 2017. The current employees and veterans of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service are particularly highly quoted by Fitin. An indicative moment - during the war, leaders and generals, even for the slightest mistakes and miscalculations, lost their posts, and sometimes their lives. Fitin remained at his post until June 1946, he was appreciated. But after the war, he fell out of favor. In 1953 he was dismissed "due to official inconsistency" and even without a pension. At the end of his life, he worked as a director of a photo factory, was friends with Julian Semenov - the creator of Stirlitz.

“Soviet intelligence officers timely warned the top leadership of the USSR about Germany’s aggressive plans, but for a number of reasons, including subjective ones, these warnings were not heard,” one of the interlocutors said. So, on June 17, 1941 Fitin reported to Stalin that "all German military measures to prepare an armed attack on the USSR are completely over and a strike can be expected at any time." Immediately before the attack, intelligence also established its exact date - June 22, 1941.

Why is intelligence illegal? Is it really “legal”?

“Initially, all Soviet intelligence was mostly illegal. It is illegal. In those conditions, it simply could not be otherwise. What is the difference between intelligence "legal" from illegal? That's right, “legal” scouts operate under the appropriate official cover, holding various positions in their overseas agencies in the host country. They have passports of citizens of their state. And if the young Soviet Republic is in dense isolation, in a hostile environment, in the ring of fronts? Such a situation left no choice. Our scouts could act in those conditions, with rare exceptions, only illegally. And we always put the term “legal” in quotation marks, since the activities of a scout, even if he has a reliable cover, will never be legal in the host country, ”says a Russian Foreign Intelligence Service officer.

Organizationally illegal intelligence was formed after approval by the board of the Main Political Administration (GPU) on June 28, 1922 of the "Regulations on the cordon branch of the INO." INO is the Foreign Department, the forerunner of the First Main Directorate (CCP) of the KGB and modern Foreign Intelligence Service.

In this document, in particular, it was said about sending "individuals and groups with strictly defined special tasks" to countries "not connected with the RSFSR with any agreements and not allowing any solid, basic bases for their work in the form of our missions." The intelligence directories said that, if necessary, they should be sent to those countries where the "legal" Cheka residency is operating. It was emphasized that, for the purpose of conspiracy, they were not communicated to “legal” residencies, but only supported it with INO.

Since then, June 28 is the day of the formation of illegal intelligence.

At the same time, there are no links in open sources to a specific or at least an approximate date of the start of using the word itself - illegal. It is possible that this could happen in 1926, at the time of the formation of the so-called Yasha group - the Special Group under the chairman of the OGPU under the leadership of Yakov Serebryansky. The tasks of the “special policemen” included the deep introduction of illegal agents, sabotage operations, the elimination of traitors, defectors and leaders of the White Guard terrorist organizations.

“Legal intelligence workers in the Central Committee of the RCP (b) and the CPSU (b) were called“ line people ”, that is, they worked“ on their own line ”under the“ roof ”of Soviet missions abroad. Legal scouts themselves called themselves "roof workers." In relation to the Soviet intelligence services, the term “neighbors” was born at the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. The NKID was still located in the building on the Kuznetsk Bridge. And the headquarters of the Cheka-GPU in Lubyanka was in the immediate vicinity of the diplomatic service, ”says the source of the newspaper VZGLYAD.

The “cleanings” in 1937-1938 were a difficult test for the service, when out of 450 employees of the non-governmental organization, including the foreign staff, 275 people were repressed, that is, more than half. Repression bled intelligence. In 1938, an unprecedented fact was noted: for 127 consecutive days from the INO, no information message was sent to the country's leadership. The situation was corrected by the arrival of Fitin.

Post-war time - the heyday of Soviet illegal intelligence. Many pages of this story have already been published, others are just waiting for publication. Our interlocutors drew attention to an unknown curious fact: the chairman of the KGB, Yuri Andropov, was on the party account in the party organization of the Office "C", where he regularly paid contributions.

Why is the letter “C” in the name of the Office?

“There is no official version of why the letter“ C ”was chosen to indicate the name of our unit. But the opinion of veterans of illegal intelligence allows us to assume with a considerable degree of certainty that this letter has remained from the previous name "Special Directorate," says an officer of the Directorate.

However, there is another version. In 1943, Soviet intelligence obtained information about the beginning of the secret development of nuclear weapons in the United States. In early February 1944, it was decided to coordinate the NKVD activities of all intelligence agencies on the atomic issue. For this, a special group “C” was created under the leadership of Pavel Sudoplatov, which in 1945 became an independent department of “C”. According to the government’s decision, Division C became the working apparatus of Bureau No. 2 of the Special Committee of the USSR Government on “Problem No. 1,” which was the creation of atomic weapons. The letter “C” in the title could mean the first letter of the name of Sudoplatov.

... This conversation with officers of the SVR of Russia lasted a long time, there was already not one such conversation - these are only the first excerpts and the very first impressions. In January, the director of the service, Sergei Naryshkin, for the first time publicly announced the names of immediately seven illegal intelligence officers. December 20 marks the 100th anniversary of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia. As we approach the anniversary, we will try to acquaint readers of the online newspaper VZGLYAD with unknown pages in the history of Russian foreign intelligence. It will be interesting.

Andrey Veselov

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