Below is the remainder of an interview given to Pravda.ru by Vyacheslav Generalov, former deputy chief of the KGB’s Ninth Chief Directorate, ex-head of the security service of Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the USSR.
We would like to have your comments on such a notorious character as Oleg Kalugin who was hugely popular with the media in those times. His interviews sold like hot cakes back then…
There were others aside from Kalugin. Kalugin was the continuation of those policies. Apparently, he was a CIA agent. He was tried and found guilty as charged. He was convicted in absentia. As far as I know, the sentence is still in force. But he never completed his sentence because he was granted political asylum in the U.S. The media helped carry out the policies by Gorbachev, Yakovlev, and Shevardnadze. By the way, Yakovlev supervised all the media in the Soviet Union. All the Party publishing houses reported to Yakovlev. It’s he who decided what should be leaked to the press and what kind of information should be given a go-ahead for dissemination.
Here’s an example. There were large-scale clashes in Central Asia, in the city of Osh, then the conflict in Karabakh broke out, then we had troubles in Sumgait, in the Baltic States, and Azerbaijan. The Soviet military received most of the blame for each of the above cases. The army was accused of acting independently as if the military hadn’t been given any orders by the Party Central Committee and the Politburo. At the same time, the Politburo received detailed reports on the situation in Central Asia, Transcaucasia, and the Baltic States. The members of the Politburo were talking about the need for some radical steps that could have changed the negative trends. However, no concrete steps were taken. Instead, Gorbachev instructed verbally the Defense Ministry to tackle the problem. So the military took action as told. But the verbal instructions are no good for using them as hard evidence in a court of law. Besides, Gorbachev later plainly denied the fact of giving such orders.
The foreign leaders who met with Gorbachev were well aware of those peculiarities. They took advantage of the situation. Take the agreement on the Bering Sea shelf, which was signed at the advice of Shevardnadze and Gorbachev. 59 thousand square kilometers were given over to the United States. The agreement hadn’t been agreed upon with the Soviet Defense Ministry. The Soviet military aircraft were taken by surprise while patrolling along the usual area one day. The U.S. warplanes confronted the Soviets and started to squeeze them out. When the military requested the Foreign Ministry for clarification, Shevardnadze answered that the area was no longer the Soviet territory, it belonged to the U.S.
In other words, the Defense Ministry was simply unaware of the deal, which relinquished the area to the Americans. It’s noteworthy that the area was of strategic importance for the ships using the Northern Sea Route.
Looking back at the pullout of Soviet troops from East Germany, I’m still filled with disgust by the way it played out. We treated East Germany like a piece of dirt. We had a detailed plan agreed by the Germans. We were to have pulled out our troops within three years. The pullout period would have enabled us to make proper arrangements for stationing our troops and equipment in Russia. More importantly, we would have had enough time for providing decent housing for commissioned officers and their families.
However, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev cut a deal to pull out the Soviet troops from Germany within three months. The troops were moved literally into the barren fields. The officers’ families had to rough it in tents. We still have to address the aftermath of the problem.
You just can’t relocate thousands of troops and equipment overnight. At least a third of all Soviet troops pulled out of Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the Baltic States had to be stationed out in the fields. As a result, thousands of officers are still sitting on the waiting list for housing to be provided by the Defense Ministry. That never-ending line goes back to those years of infamy.
According to the original agreement, the Germans were to have built residential camps for the Soviet officers and their families in Russia, at the German government’s expense. The Soviet government was to have pulled out units of our troops in step with the completion of those camps.
What would you say about the last days of the East German agency for state security, otherwise known as “Stasi”?
Stasi was one of Europe ’s most competent and efficient secret services. Neither CIA nor West German BND, nor secret services of other Western countries could compete against it. Close cooperation between the KGB and the East German intelligence bore good fruits.
However, everything was broken to smithereens overnight. The crowds stormed the Stasi headquarters, pillaging and stealing the contents of the archives. The German authorities issued orders banning former Stasi personnel from employment. Stasi personnel were left in the hands of fate. Many of them were in their forties and fifties. They just got the boot.
Secret services of other countries couldn’t but take the opportunity. They began hiring some of the former Stasi personnel, they searched high and low for the archives and records. Consequently, we practically lost our entire spy network created in collaboration with the East German secret service.
Is it true that some KGB agents helped out the East German politicians and Stasi agents at their own risks?
Yes, it’s true that many former top-ranking East German officials were evacuated to the Soviet Union. The former East German leader Erich Honecker, Marcus Wolf (former head of East German intelligence – eds.) lived in the USSR. The above were handed over to the German authorities after the Soviet Union began to split and Yeltsin came to power. As far I’m concerned, it was an act of treason.
Of course, some people were transported to neutral countries. I won’t name those countries, though. There are people who are still searching for the politicians and the secret service agents of the former Soviet bloc. The evacuees have sensitive information pertaining to the interests of those who are presently at the helm. I reckon nobody will tell you the names or whereabouts of those who were transported abroad.
Let us talk about the events of 1989, the year when our troops pulled out of Afghanistan.
Our troops didn’t conduct any large-scale operations in Afghanistan after Gorbachev came to power. Moscow didn’t allocate enough funds for purchasing ammunition, equipment, fuel and lubes. From my point of view, it was a big disgrace for the Soviet Union.
They persuaded Gorbachev into going ahead with a troop pullout. Needless to say, a pullout should be conducted in a skillful way to avoid heavy losses.
The Soviet troops suffered minimum casualties during the withdrawal provided that Varennikov or Gromov were in charge of the operation, holding things under personal control.
Speaking of the Americans, they were more than happy to see the Soviets leaving Afghanistan. Following the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan, the Americans got carte blanche in the region. Nowadays it’s open secret that they created both Osama bin Laden and the Taliban for fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Taliban militants are aggressive fanatics, it makes no difference to them who they fight or where they fight as long as they’re paid for services rendered.
The problem of drug trafficking from Afghanistan is one of the most burning issues of out time. The problem stems from the late 1980s, and I’m sure that the CIA was involved in the business. They had to get a way for financing the war, anyway.
Is it true that the prominent Afghan warlord Akhmad Shah Massud was paid a huge sum of money for allowing the Soviet troops to pull out without difficulty?
I don’t know anything about the money. I do know that they received some equipment and fuel. You can hold hands with the devil in order to minimize your casualties. It’s a crime and stupidity to waste soldiers during the pullout.
We need to bear in mind that the Afghans were well-armed. They didn’t have any heavy weaponry, but they got plenty of machine guns and bazookas through the courtesy of the Americans.
By and large, I believe the decision to pull out the Soviet troops from Afghanistan was a right one. It was untimely, though. The military that doesn’t receive arms and equipment, the military with no ideological backup, it simply ceases to be the armed forces.
Many of those who served in Afghanistan ended up down and out after coming home. A bit later they formed the cornerstone of organized crime in this country. Who’s to blame for their wasted lives?
Could you comment on the situation in the Soviet military-industrial complex in the late 1980s?
I’ve already mentioned that defense-related industries had practically ground to a halt in that period. They stalled in the late 1980s, not in Yeltsin’s time. No funds whatsoever were allocated for the industries. State orders were put on hold. The companies relating to military-industrial complex had to shut down. They could only survive by doing something that would keep them above water. Some of them started making saucepans, others launched the manufacture of washing machines and so on.
The products manufactured in the late 1980s and equipment built by those companies in the past are beyond comparison. More importantly, the engineers and technicians previously employed by those enterprises were left to their own devices. Some of them took to drink, others moved abroad. The brain drain from Russia largely took place during the period of 1990-1994. I can’t blame those who left Russia at the time. They had to survive somehow in troubled times.
No doubt about it, the Soviet Union took loans from the West. But the loans were never used for financing the industries. We wasted away the loans under Gorbachev just like we wasted away the petrodollars under Brezhnev. Taking into account that the world oil prices were down at the time, we received a lot less money then we did in the 1970s.
Lately there’s been a lot of debate about all kinds of foundations. Gorbachev has a foundation of his own…
The Gorbachev Foundation was set up in a later period. It’s worthy of notice that Western secret services have always tried to set up numerous foundations in a given country so that they could have leverage with the political circles. It’s understood that a political or social organization can’t function without proper funding. Employees on the payroll should be paid, managers should be paid too, and funds are essential for conducting activities. That’s why the foundations have been set up and will be set up in the future to undermine the political and economic system of the state from the inside.
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