"Red Spies": Preserving the Soviet Secret Services Cold War Archives in Contemporary Ukraine

Andrii Rukkas

It is hard to imagine more secrets than there are kept in the archives of the secret services that operated in the Soviet republics in 1918–1991, since spying for everyone was a prerequisite for the Soviet state existence. Accumulated as a result of the activity of the Soviet state security bodies, the documents day after day were deposited in closed for the extraneous eyes archive storage. The archive was created exclusively for the operational needs of the security forces and their followers. As a component of the punitive and repressive system, it was strictly modeled, classified and inaccessible. The absolute majority of the documents had the stamps "Secret", "Top Secret", "Confidential", “Restricted”. In Soviet times, individual documents, with the special permission, could be read only by authorized persons. No one then thought that in the future these archives would be used for another purpose – to restore historical memory, justice and the rule of law, to develop democracy and to establish a historical truth.

Today, the bulk of the documents of the Soviet secret services that operated in Ukraine are stored in the former archive of the KGB of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Today it is the State Branch Archive of Security Service of Ukraine. Among other materials, there are a lot of evidences of the operations of Soviet secret services during the "cold" war, when the confrontation of intelligences, first of all, those of the USSR and the United States, reached unprecedented levels.

In particular, these are:

1) reporting, information and special messages to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, the authorities and the administration of the Ukrainian SSR on the operative and investigative work of the KGB on the residence of foreigners in Ukraine, the fight against dissidents, the groups of Ukrainian nationalists in Ukraine, the foreign centers of Ukrainian nationalists, the struggle against Zionist elements and Crimean Tatar autonomists;
2) materials on the preparation by the KGB of compromising measures against representatives of anti-Soviet organizations;

3) extracted anti-Soviet materials, including information on events in Czechoslovakia in 1968, in Hungary in 1956, in Poland in the early 1980's;
4) originals and copies of documents produced by foreign anti-Soviet centers and members of anti-Soviet organizations and factions in the Ukrainian SSR;

5) documents on the work of the KGB to research foreign Ukrainian nationalist centers and to expose the intelligence and subversion activities of the enemy's special services;

6) reports on operational contingents, persons suspected of conducting hostile activities, on special services of foreign states and methods of their intelligence and subversion activities;

7) documents on the termination of intelligence and subversion of foreign intelligence services;

8) documents on operational activities to penetrate into foreign intelligence agencies;
9) documents of counter-intelligence protection of the scientific-economic complex and transport;

10) documents of counter-reconnaissance study of Soviet citizens departing abroad;

11) documents on foreign citizens that were of operational interest.

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Number of Conferences, Seminars, Courses participated at: more than 70.

The latest (outside Ukraine):

·             March 2018, Riga (Latvia), International Conference “The Third Way: The national Resistance Movement Against Communist and Nazi occupation Regimes in the Baltic region”. Paper: “The Ukrainian Insurgent Army in the Struggle against Nazi and Soviet Occupation”.

·             March 2018, Šiauliai (Lithuania), the 7th International Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference “The Region: History, Culture, Language”. Paper: “The History of Creation and Activity of Ukrainian-Lithuanian Students Society in Prague (1929-1939)”.

·             December 2017, Riga (Latvia), International Scientific Conference “The Impossible Resistance: Opposition, Conformism and Survival under Communist and Nazi Regimes in the Eastern Europe (1940–1991)”. Paper: “The Ukrainian armed resistance against Soviet regime”.

·             November 2017, Budapest (Hungary), International Scientific Conference “Need to know VII: The hidden hand of intelligence”, Paper: “Polish financial support for the exile government of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in 1926-1939”.

·             September 2017, Kaunas (Lithuania), IV World Congress of Lithuanian Historians “Vasario 16-osios Lietuva: pirmtakai ir paveldetojai”. Paper: “Kovos del Ukrainos nepriklausomybes 191-1920 m.”.


Number of Publications: more than 100.

The latest monographs:

·             „Polska – Ukraina 1920”. Warsaw 2017, 232 pp. (coauthor Janusz Odiemkowski).

·             “Разом з Польським Військом: Армія Української Народної Республіки 1920 р. Організація, структура, чисельність, уніформа”. Nizhyn 2013 (1st ed.), Кyiv 2015 (2nd ed.), 480 pp. (monograph). Review: Krotofil M. Armia Ukrainskiej Republiki Ludowej w 1920 r. In: Europa Orientalis. Studia z dziejów Europy Wschodniej i Państw Bałtyckich, 4 (2013), pp. 173–177. [avaliable at: apcz.pl/czasopisma/index.php/EO/article/view/EO.2013.013/3747].


Some latest articles can be found at my personal academia.edu web-page



Membership in the Editorial Boards of Scholarly Journals

·             “Karo Archivas” (Vilnius, Lithuania)

·             “Latvijas Universitātes Žurnāls. Vēsture” (Riga, Latvia)

·             “Visnyk Kyivskoho Natsionalnoho Universytetu imeni Tarasa Shevchenka. Istoriia” (Kyiv, Ukraine)

Yevropeiski Istorychni Studii” (electronic journa

Tina Andersen