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ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: C-6Last update of repository: 9 June 2017
Tsentral'nyi arkhiv Federal'noi sluzhby bezopasnosti RF (TsA FSB Rossii)
The present archive is the direct heir to the central archives of preceding state security, intelligence, and counterintelligence organs. The All-Russia Extraordinary Commission for the Struggle against Counterrevolution, Speculation, and Sabotage (Vserossiiskaia chrezvychainaia komissiia po bor'be s kontrrevoliutsiei, spekuliatsiei i sabotazhem—VChK), familiarly known as the Cheka, was established on the initiative of V.I. Lenin in December 1917, as a punitive and intelligence organ for the suppression of opposition to Soviet rule, headed by FeliksÂ E. Dzerzhinskii (Pol. Dzierżyński). The Cheka operated independently from the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) RSFSR, which also existed starting in 1917 as the central agency for the protection of public order and domestic administration. (Cf. the historical account for C–8).
Starting in 1918, as the controlling centralized security organ, the Cheka established a network of local extraordinary commissions in guberniia and uezd administrations (abolished in 1919), in transportation, and in army and naval units, working in direct contact with the Revolutionary Tribunals, the NKVD, and the People’s Commissariat of Justice, all of which had their representatives in the Cheka.
In February 1922the Cheka was abolished and replaced by the State Political Administration (sometimes Directorate in English) (Gosudarstvennoe politicheskoe upravlenie—GPU), directly under the NKVD RSFSR. The GPU functioned within the NKVD from February through December 1922, andaccordingly Cheka archival records came under NKVD jurisdiction.
After the formation of the USSR in 1923, security functions were removed from the jurisdiction of the NKVD, and in July 1923 they were transferred to the newly-established Consolidated State Political Administration (or Directorate) (Ob"edinennoe gosudarstvennoe politicheskoe upravlenie—OGPU) under the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR (SNK SSSR). The republic-level GPU RSFSR was subordinated to the OGPU.
Starting in July 1934, GPU RSFSR functions were transferred to organs of the NKVD SSSR, whose structure also included the OGPU, which was then renamed the Main Administration (or Chief Directorate) of State Security (Glavnoe upravlenie gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti—GUGB). In February 1941 the NKVD SSSR was divided into two independent organs—the NKVD SSSR and the People’s Commissariat of State Security (Narkomat gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti SSSR—NKGB)—but which in July 1941 were again consolidated within the NKVD SSSR. April 1943 saw the organization of the People’s Commissariat (after 1946 Ministry) of State Security (MGB) of the USSR. In 1953 the MGB was consolidated with the MVD under an enlarged MVD SSSR.
In March 1954, MVD security and foreign intelligence functions were again reorganized under what thenceforth became the Committee on State Security—KGB (Komitet gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti), directly under the Council of Ministers of the USSR. At that point those parts of the until-then consolidated MVD archive (see C–8) directly relating to state security functions were reorganized as the Central Archive of the KGB (sometimes cited in literature as the Operational Archive [Operativnyi arkhiv]), although some security-related records nevertheless remained under MVD control. Records of the First Chief Directorate (foreign intelligence) were already maintained separately (see C–7), and some other subordinate directorates and other agencies held their own operational records, although many files were not designated for permanent preservation. The all-union KGB included under its direct authority the Committees on State Security of the Councils of Ministers of all union republics, and also administered their subordinate KGB organs inkrais, oblasts, and large cities. The border guards were also a part of the all-union KGB, although in 1955 most of their earlier records were transferred to TsGASA (now RGVA—B–8; see also C–9).
After the attempted coup in August 1991, the KGB SSSR underwent reform, and several of its structural units became independent agencies. Among these, the First Chief Directorate (foreign intelligence) was reorganized as the Central Intelligence Service (Tsentral'naia sluzhba razvedki—TsSR) which, after the collapse of the USSR in December 1991, became the Foreign Intelligence Service (Sluzhba vneshnei razvedki—SVR—see C–7). Other newly independent security agencies were the Chief Directorate of Guards (Glavnoe upravlenie okhrany) and the Federal Government Communications Service (Federal'naia sluzhba pravitel'stvennoi sviazi), the latter assuming many KGB functions of counterespionage and ciphered communications. The newly created Ministry of Security Services (Ministerstvo sluzhby bezopasnosti—MSB), which was in turn soon renamed the Federal Security Agency (Agentsvo federal'noi bezopasnosti—AFB). This latter organ was for a short while consolidated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs as the Ministry of Security and Internal Affairs (Ministerstvo bezopasnosti i vnutrennikh del—MBVD), but which was soon was redivided into two independent ministries, including the Ministry of Security (Ministerstvo bezopasnosti—MB RF).
In 1993, the Ministry of Security (MB RF) was reconstituted as the Federal Counterintelligence Service (Federal'naiasluzhba kontrrazvedki—FSK), directly subject to the Administration of the President. The FSK was essentially constituted on the basis of what had earlier been the Second Chief Directorate (for counterintelligence) of the KGB, and it absorbed other KGB directorates dealing with transportation security, economic crimes, fraud, and corruption. In April 1995 the FSK was again reorganized and renamed the Federal Security Service (Federal'naia sluzhba bezopasnosti—FSB). Already in 1993, the border guards were removed from control of the FSK, andthey remain a separate agency—the Federal Border Service (Federal'naia pogranichnaia sluzhba—FPS); that agency also maintains its own separate Central Archive (not included here). The April 1995 law was already the sixth reorganization of the agency since 1991, all of which need to be taken into account in terms of the archival development and holdings of the current TsA FSB and the separate archives of other security agencies.
After August 1991, the Ministry of Security and its successors took control of the KGB CentralArchive (TsA KGB SSSR), except for those records that came under the authority of the newly independent security agencies. At that point, total KGB archival holdings were estimated as 9.5 million files, including the central as well as regional archives throughout the Russian Federation. Holdings ofthe Central Archive (TsA) were widely dispersed, including major storage facilities in Omsk, Vladimir, Ul'ianovsk, Saratov Oblast, and Moscow Oblast, in addition to those physically located in the Lubianka. According to the August 1991 presidental decree, agency archives of the former KGB SSSR andits precursors were to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the state archival system, that is to say, to the authority of Rosarkhiv (then Roskomarkhiv) and local state archival agencies. Proposals and plans for the transfers were elaborated in a 1992 report by the specially appointed commission submitted to the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation, which included plans for the creation of a new special archival center under Roskomarkhiv for the former KGB archives. The center was never created, however, and major transfers have not taken place, although a few minimal transfers have been made (see below). It is important to note, in this respect, that the latest April 1995 law on the security services gave the FSB continuing authority over its own agency records and those of its predecessors (particularly those that could be construed to protect its own agents andmethods) and discretion over declassification of those materials deemed of “scientific and historical value” that the agency agrees to be appropriate for transfer to public federal archives. Similarly the January 1996 law “On Foreign Intelligence” gives the FSB authorityover records of any of its own foreign operations, although such operations are fewer under the FSB since the formation of the separate SVR (C–7). A March 1996 presidential decree adds both the Federal Border Service and the FederalGovernment Communications Service to the list of federal agencies having the right to long-term retention of their own records.
Only a small part of the Central Archive is held in the Lubianka itself, since holdings are decentralized in a number of different storage areas. Some central administrative and operational files are still retained by their creating offices. Regional FSB archives are located throughout the Russian Federation for records of “subjects of the Russian Federation” on the level of federated republics, krais, and oblasts. These regional archives continue to hold historical records of local former KGB organs within their territories, with special divisions for operations under military districts and transport facilities. See below for the separate repositories for the cities and oblasts of Moscow (D–11) and St. Petersburg (D–28).
Reliable information is not currently available about the extent to which NKVD and KGB archives have been preserved intact, despite considerable speculation in the press about the “disposal” or “cleansing” (chistka) of “unneeded” files. The 1992 commission report to the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation, noting the internal recordkeeping instructions under Iu.V. Andropov in December 1979 and those under V.A. Kriuchkov in November 1990 (both of which called for significant limitations in the retention of KGB files), recommended measures to prevent further destruction and to provide for the permanent retention of a wider range of KGB records.