KGB Documents

Measures of social and psychological effect (prevention, compromising, propaganda)

After 1953, the KGB, alongside physical repressions, applied more refined, less visible measures of a psychological effect: compromising, propaganda and prophylaxis. These measures are closely interrelated but have specific features.

One of the most measures frequently adopted by the KGB was compromising, that is, shaping negative public opinion about the people or organisations that were ill-disposed toward the regime seeking to weaken their positions, activities, reduce the number of their supporters and justify its actions. The KGB looked for the compromising material in the individual’s past. The earlier social situation or deportation, imprisonment were also regarded as kompromat (compromising material), which the KGB could use when recruiting agents. The compromising information of personal nature was used less frequently. It was not always untruthful. The Soviet Intelligence sought to make use of real facts, it distorted them, interpreted them in a biased way, did not present the whole truth seeking to fuel mistrust of the public in the person being compromised. Targets of the smear campaigns were clergymen who refused to obey religious restrictions imposed by the government, the former deportees and political prisoners, especially partisans, and also dissidents, defenders of human rights, emigrants. Forms of discredit were different: defamation and whispering campaigns in the press, criminalisation of political cases, initiating letters and petitions, most often falsified, and announcing certain people mental illness sufferers. One of the most important tasks of the KGB Intelligence and Ideological Counter-intelligence Divisions was to weaken the policy of liberating the occupied Baltic States pursued by the Diasporas, to prevent them from raising the issue of occupation on an international level, to divide the forces of the Diasporas. It was important for the Soviet authorities to change the attitude of the Diasporas to the soviet republics, to make them refuse their policy being pursued, as well as to deny the information disseminated by the Diasporas about the USSR as untruthful, not corresponding to the facts and to discredit the activities of the Diasporas in this way. The propaganda campaigns had to form the general public’s corresponding approach to the soviet system and anti-Soviet resistance, not to fall under the “negative” influence of Western and local participants in the resistance movement, and the clergy. The campaigns were carried out through the press, cultural and scientific relations, tourism.

Prophylaxis of the citizens who were disloyal to the Soviet regime was one of the main measures of the psychological effect of the KGB. It did the greatest harm to the intelligentsia, the youth and workers. By exerting the psychological pressure it was sought to intimidate the disobedient persons who were disloyal to the Soviet authorities, to make them recant their views and to adapt themselves to the Soviet reality. Measures of prophylaxis were adopted for undesirable relations with foreigners, “disloyal intensions” anti-Soviet and political harmful utterances, disregard of the duty rules, violations of currency operations. The psychological impact was made by the KGB both covertly and openly using different forms: by an individual educational interview, by verbal or written, public condemnation by the workmates, an article in the press.  The KGB carried out prophylaxis on its own or in cooperation with other state structures and political organisations.

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