KGB: The Inside Story, by Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky
Just as people in Palermo, Sicily, shy away from discussing the Mafia, most people who live under the Soviet system tiptoe around the subject of the KGB.1 Even Boris Yeltsin, the elected president of Russia, whose first official act was to refuse KGB “protection,” will not answer questions about whether the KGB stands in the way of his plans.
But the KGB does stand in his and everybody else’s way. It has proved the most cohesive and remains the most privileged institution in the Soviet Union. It is the most solid part of Mikhail Gorbachev’s power base. Indeed, it is difficult to tell whether the KGB works for Gorbachev or Gorbachev works for it. The KGB deploys some 100,000 officers throughout the country. These people maintain files on just about everyone. They are well armed, and have richly earned their fearsome reputation. Behind them are some 300,000 KGB troops, also armed—with tanks, artillery, and airplanes. Then there are the Special Section officers who have controlled the armed forces since 1918, and whose grip is especially tight over the tough, professional Spetsnaz troops, and the other uniformed KGB troops who today have exclusive control of the Soviet Union’s nuclear stockpile. In addition to all this, the KGB controls the Interior Ministry and its roughly 350,000, also heavily armed, troops.
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