Soviet KGB had thorough info on Czechoslovak StB - historian

published:

updated:
15.08.2014 12:10

Prague/Cambridge - The Soviet secret service KGB was informed about all aspects of the work of the Czechoslovak StB secret police in the 1970s, but KGB passed only limited information to StB, Czech historian Prokop Tomek has told CTK, commenting on the documents from the Mitrokhin Archive.

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Pietní akt při příležitosti 45. výročí smrti Jana Palacha 16. ledna u hlavní budovy Filozofické fakulty Univerzity Karlovy v Praze. ČTK Šulová Kateřina

The Mitrokhin Archive is a collection of handwritten notes made secretly by KGB Major Vasili Mitrokhin from 1972 to 1984, during his years as a KGB archivist. Most of the archive has recently been opened to the public in Cambridge.

"KGB informed the friendly StB only on essential matters. They did not acquaint their (Czechoslovak) colleagues with everything, especially when they suspected that something was happening (in Czechoslovakia)," Tomek, expert in communist secret services, said.

Tomek said Soviet intelligence agents informed StB about their joint operations, joint interests or people who worked for both services, but they did not tell StB what they were going to do in Czechoslovakia.

He said the East German Stasi and the Polish secret service operating in Czechoslovakia acted in the same way.

According to Mitrokhin´s notes read by CTK correspondent, KGB agents repeatedly reported to Moscow that they had detailed information about the work of StB and the Czechoslovak Interior Ministry.

Mitrokhin writes that KGB reported about StB officers who criticised the unbalanced relation between KGB and StB and about their dismissals. This was the case of intelligence deputy chief Frantisek Vlcek, codenamed Petrina.

Documents from the Mitrokhin Archive describe how the Czechoslovak intelligence tried to get rid of KGB in the country during the 1968 Prague Spring reform movement. One of them speaks of anti-Soviet actions and the removal of Soviet flags and slogans and of "healthy elements" in StB trying not to let an "illegal" group around interior minister Josef Pavel gain control. The resistance was overcome only in March 1969, KGB agents reported.

Mitrokhin then writes about a number of StB officers who were dismissed for ideological reasons afterwards.

"The Czechoslovak intelligence was divided then, a part of it was strongly pro-reform," Tomek said.

He said KGB logically did not trust people in the Czechoslovak intelligence, it was afraid of them and intrigued against them.

One document mentions that KGB agents seated in Prague were ordered to seek an improvement in their relations with the management and members of the Czechoslovak counter-intelligence in order to find out who would be willing to fulfill various Soviet orders, if necessary.

Mitrokhin´s notes document active cooperation of the Soviet and Czech secret services in science and technology espionage. Czechs focused on military technology more than the Soviets and they provided 449 materials and ten samples in 1977-1979, including 180 materials that met the priorities of the military industry according to KGB.

Moscow asked the Czechoslovak intelligence to open its centre (residentura) in Tirana, Albania, which was done in 1975.

In total, Soviet and Czechoslovak spies collaborated in 26 countries.

With the knowledge of the Soviets, Czechoslovak spies worked against some embassies seated in Moscow. In 1976-1977, these were the embassies of Austria, China, Iran, Iraq, Syria, the United States and West Germany, for example.

The Mitrokhin Archive also includes technical information about KGB in Czechoslovakia. The KGB apparatus at the Czechoslovak Interior Ministry was established in 1950 and it had 17 employees in 1980. A KGB residentura was established at the Soviet embassy in April 1968.

Written by:
www.ctk.cz

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