Russian History


Successor Agencies to the KGB

By early 1991, the powerful KGB organization was being dismantled. The development of the post-Soviet internal security apparatus took place in a highly volatile political environment, with President Yeltsin threatened by political opposition, economic crises, outbreaks of ethnic conflict, and sharply escalating crime. Under these circumstances, Yeltsin and his advisers had to rely on state security and internal police agencies for support in devising and implementing internal security strategies.

The KGB was dissolved officially in December 1991, a few weeks before the Soviet Union itself. Foreign observers saw the end of the KGB as a sign that democracy would prevail in the newly created Russian Federation. But President Yeltsin did not completely eliminate the security apparatus. Instead, he dispersed the functions of the former KGB among several different agencies, most of which performed tasks similar to those of the various KGB directorates.

In 1992 Yeltsin never made a clear statement of his plans for the security services, except for occasional claims that the new services would be very different from the KGB. Nevertheless, early in 1992 certain trends already could be discerned. Generally speaking, Yeltsin had three main aims for the internal security services. Above all, he wanted to use the services to support him in his battles with high-level political opponents. Second, he wanted the security apparatus to counter broader domestic threats--ethnic separatism, terrorism, labor unrest, drug trafficking, and organized crime. Third, he intended that the security apparatus carry out counterintelligence against foreign spies operating in Russia.

After the creation of fifteen new states from the republics of the former Soviet Union, the territorial branches of the former KGB were transferred to the control of the new governments of these states, each of which made reforms deemed appropriate to the political and national security needs of the regime in power. The Russian Federation, however, which as the RSFSR had housed KGB central operations in Moscow, inherited the bulk of the KGB's resources and personnel. As early as January 1992, five separate security agencies had emerged in Russia to take the place of the KGB. Four of them were concerned with internal security; the fifth was the Foreign Intelligence Service, which replaced the KGB's First Chief Directorate.