The KGB: Eyes of the Kremlin

The new KGB: how Andropov's agents watch the home front and the world

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estimated 20 million perished. The Soviet people have been served up idealized KGB agents in books, movies and television series. Unlike their counterparts in Western spy fiction, these heroes do not roll in the hay with curvaceous blonds or indulge in other unseemly 007-style vices, and they rarely reach for their pistols to liquidate enemies. Instead, they use their superior intellect to outwit the forces of evil, usually the CIA. The Soviet James Bond is Maxim Isayev, code-named Stirlitz, an undercover agent who manages to penetrate Nazi headquarters in a popular TV serial called Seventeen Moments in Spring.

To help build the new KGB, Andropov encouraged recruiters to go after the best and the brightest in the Soviet academic world. Says Leonard Shapiro, a Soviet specialist at the London School of Economics: "In the 1930s the KGB was full of thugs. Now it has become an elite that skims the cream from the universities." Recruiters are eager to enlist youths who speak foreign languages for possible assignment abroad. Students from Moscow's prestigious Institute of International Relations are in particular demand. For many youths, the appeal of a KGB job is a mixture of patriotic impulse and shrewd calculation. Says a recent Soviet émigré: "A post in the KGB conjures up a marvelous vision of all the perquisites that come with it: higher pay, larger apartments, better vacations, foreign travel—in short, all the things the average Soviet spends every moment of his waking life trying to get."

KGB recruiters zero in on the children of army officers, the police or the KGB'S border guards and agents. KGB scouts will invite candidates for an interview at a special training school. They will stress the organization's ideals and explain how it is the Soviet's patriotic duty to defend the motherland against imperialist spies and propaganda. For a young person from a collective farm, the KGB is an escape from the drudgery of rural life and a source of pride to parents, who can boast of a son or daughter in the KGB.

The KGB's most important mission is a domestic one: to ensure that party writ is faithfully followed from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka. From its Moscow headquarters, the KGB keeps watch over the activities of foreign tourists, journalists, businessmen and diplomats within the Soviet Union. The organization's major instrument of domestic control is its Political Security Service, known simply as Sluzhba (the Service), which, among other things, runs the national network of informers. The Sluzhba operates independently of the militsia in much the same way that the FBI works alongside the local police in the U.S.

The average Soviet feels the presence of the KGB most directly through the personnel department at his workplace. Ostensibly concerned with screening job applicants and maintaining security, KGB workers doubling as personnel administrators check for any signs of anti-Communist sentiment on the job. They often go so far as to oversee social gatherings, ensuring, say, that a rock band performing at a factory dance does not slip in politically questionable lyrics. If a Soviet steps out of line, "personnel" officials may summon him for a chat and, perhaps, make note of his behavior in his records. Says a British expert on the KGB: "People know that if they say something wrong they may not

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