The KGB History

The KGB history shows that the Soviet intelligence service and secret police ‘Checka’ changed many names and functions before it transformed into the KGB.

The various name changes of Cheka and their dates are given as follows,

  • Cheka (December 1917)
  • GPU (February 1922)
  • OGPU (July 1923)
  • GUGB (July 1934)
  • GUGB (July 1941)
  • NKGB (April 1943)
  • MGB (March 1946)
  • MVD (March 1953)
  • KGB (March 1954)
KGB Seal

When Cheka was established in 1917, it was meant to be a temporary organization that Bolsheviks relied to consolidate their rule. It was to be abolished once Lenin had come to power.

Cheka was abolished after the civil war of 1918 to 1921. Its place was taken by State Political Directorate (GPU) in 1922. Joseph Stalin used the GPU for crushing his opponents.

In 1934 Stalin renamed it ‘the People's Comissariat for Internal Affairs’ and gave it vast punitive powers. Because it was no longer under party rule, Stalin used it as a personal tool in oppressing his people during the ‘Great Terror’ years of the 30’s. The secret police was the most feared institution in the Stalinist years.

After the death of Stalin, the MVD abandoned extreme violence and was reorganized to form the KGB in March 1954. All of KGB’s predecessors used terror as the means to control public dissent while using idealism to recruit agents in foreign countries.

The modernization and reform of KGB was more pronounced under the leadership of Yuri Andropov. He remained chairman from 1967 to 1982 and later became the general secretary of the Communist Party.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the 80’s he made sweeping reforms in the KGB. As a result the KGB became less aggressive towards political dissidents and curtailed its struggle against foreign countries.

In august 1991, KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov led a failed coup against the government. It was the beginning of the end for KGB. This event and revelations about other activities, including the infiltration of Russian Orthodox Church, created popular demand for the reformation of KGB.

Russian president Boris Yeltsin split the organization after Soviet breakup. As a result five agencies were formed, each with a separate function. KGB officially ceased to exist on 6th November, 1991.

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