The Soviet Intelligence Services and the Impact of the 1989 Upheavals in East Central Europe

Mark Kramer

From the mid-1940s through 1989, intelligence-gathering in the Soviet bloc was dominated by the two primary Soviet intelligence organs — the State Security Committee (KGB) and the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Soviet General Staff. KGB and GRU exercised broad control over the other Warsaw Pact intelligence services, whose activities (other than certain areas of military intelligence supervised by the GRU) were coordinated by the Eleventh Department of the KGB’s First Main Directorate, the directorate that oversaw Soviet foreign intelligence.

The upheavals of 1989 shattered this entire framework. Although the East-Central European countries initially maintained some of their intelligence ties with the Soviet Union, they moved decisively away from their subordinate position of earlier years. The dissolution of the Communist-era intelligence organs, the establishment of new agencies controlled by the EastCentral European governments (rather than by the Soviet KGB and the local Communist parties), and the increasing cooperation between the new East European intelligence services and their Western counterparts dealt a major blow to Soviet intelligence-gathering in Europe and provoked concern in Moscow that the East European countries would soon become conduits for Western efforts to penetrate the Soviet government. Anxiety about this matter increasingly preoccupied the KGB and diverted high-level attention from more exigent problems at home.

My paper for the conference, drawing on many collections of declassified archival materials, will explore the drastic impact of the 1989 upheavals on the Soviet intelligence servies.

Sylwia Szyc