The Soviet KGB’s elite Ninth Directorate was responsible for leadership protection and well as guarding the Kremlin, Communist Party headquarters and other special sites. Learn how the KGB created not only the world’s top intelligence and counterintelligence services, but also a first-class bodyguard unit.
A study of the history of personal protection in the USSR shows a clear tendency: if a good relationship developed between the principal and the chief of a detail, then the latter stayed loyal to him to the end, even after his death. And the other way around: arrogance, fault-finding, and ingratitude in communication with officers of the security detail could, at a tough moment, leave the leader of a vast country alone with his problems and his enemies.
The Era of Fancy Funerals
On November 15th, 1982, in the Column Hall of the USSR House of Unions, the ceremony for Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev’s final farewell took place. On that day was established a tradition significant for all present in the country’s main hall of mourning. First out of the “special zone” and to the coffin of the departed CPSU General Secretary would come his successor. Without exception all those present awaited this moment with the greatest trepidation, including leaders of top world powers who considered it necessary to personally come to the funeral of the Soviet head of state.
Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov’s funeral took place on February 14th, 1984. George Bush Sr., still US Vice President at that time, came, as did British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Both were present that day in the Column Hall. Now-president of NAST Russia (National Bodyguard Association) Dmitry Fonarev was responsible for meeting high-level guests at a special entrance at the House of Unions and their accompaniment to the place of farewell in the Column Hall. In his words, Margaret Thatcher, having seen that Konstantin Chernenko (chief of security Viktor Ladygin) appeared first out of the open door in a corner of the hall opposite her, said to those escorting her, “I’ll be back here again in a year.”
And so it happened. Thatcher kept her promise on March 13th, 1985, and this time saw that the first to walk out – namely walk out and not appear – of the “sacral” room to Konstantin Chernenko’s coffin was Mikhail Gorbachev (chief of security Nikolai Zemlyansky).
To give the reader an opportunity to better sense the scale of such mourning events, it is sufficient to tell what sort of workload was placed on the KGB’s Ninth Directorate during these four unhappy days for the nation.
And so by invitation of the CPSU Central Committee, there arrived the leaders of 35 countries. The number of delegations represented by other individuals composed up to 170. In obligatory fashion every head of a foreign state was provided a detail of officers from the 18th Section and a basic GON (Garazh Osobogo Naznachenia – Special Purpose Garage) automobile. Higher-level delegations from socialist countries were secured with living quarters in state mansions, and the rest were placed in their embassies and representations.
According to the plans of the protective service, which were composed back for Josef Stalin’s funeral, the rest of the mourning ceremonies also went in just the same manner.
Structure & Personnel
By 1985 the Ninth Directorate of the USSR KGB represented a magnificently tuned system that wholly corresponded to the requirements of the time. In a rough outline its basic structure can be described as follows:
First Department: Personal Protection
18th Section: Reserve Section for every principal under guard
Second Department: Counterintelligence (internal security service)
Fourth Department: Construction & Engineering
The Fifth Department unified three sections:
- First Section: Protection of the Kremlin and Red Square
- Second Section: Protection of Routes of Travel
- Third Section: Protection of Principals’ City Homes
Sixth Department: Special Kitchen
The Seventh Department brought together two sections:
- First Section: Protection of Country Dachas
- Second Section: Protection of State Mansions in Lenin Hills
Eight Department: Economic
Commandant’s Office of the Moscow Kremlin:
- Protection of the 14th Kremlin Corpus
- Kremlin Regiment
Protection of CPSU Central Committee Buildings on Staraya Square
Commandant’s Office for Protection of the Council of Ministers
Special-Purpose Garage (GON)
Department of Service & Combat Training (Directorate Headquarters)
The personnel of the Ninth Directorate composed slightly more than 5,000 men, including officers, warrant officers, and civilians. Candidates for an officer position in the directorate underwent standard half-year personnel vetting by the KGB and then the “Young Combatant’s Course” at the Kupavna special training center. According to the established order, with little exceptions, officers who had worked in exemplary fashion in the directorate for no less than three years were permitted into the First Department. Chiefs of detail [American terminology: Agent-In-Charge, AIC] as a rule were appointed from officers of the 18th Section who had a minimum work experience of ten years.
The First Department was headed by a veteran of the Great Fatherland War, Maj. Gen. Nikolai Pavlovich Rogov, whom officers with love and respect called “the White General” for his noble gray streak. Nikolai Rogov was replaced by the legendary Mikhail Vladimirovich Titkov, who undertook his entire professional path, from warrant officer to general, in the Ninth Directorate.
By the middle of the 1980’s, the KGB Ninth Directorate essentially presented a powerful and rigidly centralized system, the leader of which had direct access to the head of the state. Alongside that at his “disposal” was all the might of both the Soviet KGB and MVD. Concerning the army, by his position the minister of defense was also a member of the Politburo, and therefore he was also protected by officers of the KGB Ninth Directorate. Moreover, officers on the USSR minister of defense’s detail worked in military uniforms as majors – corresponding to their KGB rank – and one could imagine how many curious situations arose in their work when they put multi-starred army generals in their proper place…
Original Article: Моисеев, Александр. “Охрана генсеку не указ.” Военное обозрение, 19 декабря 2015-го года.
Translated by Mark Hackard.