"Red spies": Preserving the SovietSecret Service Cold War Archives in contemporary Ukraine

Ruslana Martseniuk

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 50.

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: “Foreign Volunteers in Ukrainian Insurgent Army (1942-1945)”.

·      March 2018, Šiauliai (Lithuania), the 7th International Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference “The Region: History, Culture, Language”. Paper: “Ukrainian-Lithuanian Interregional Cooperation: a Modern Dimension with an Eye for the Past”.

·      April 2017, Riga (Latvia), International Research Conference “Democratic Processes in the eastern and Central Europe in 1917: Political, Military, Social and Cultural Aspects”. Paper: “Ukrainian-Latvian Diplomatic Relations in 1918-1921”.

·      April 2017, Viimsi, Tartu (Estonia), Estonian War Museum’s 8th annual military History Conference “national Formations in the Great War: from an Imperial Mobilization Policy to armies of Independent Nation States”. Paper: “The Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen in 1914-1918”.


Number of Publications: more than 60.

The latest and most important are:

·      Військова співпраця України та країн Балтії. In: Європейські історичні студії, Vol.8, Kyiv, 2017, pp. 165–221;

·      Українки в лавах Легіону Українських січових стрільців в роки Першої світової війни (1914–1918). In: Історія та історіографія в Європі. Vol. 5, Кyiv, 2016, pp. 35–46;

·      Żołnierze dywizji Waffen SS na Ukrainie i na Łotwie – bohaterowie czy kolaboranci? In: Wina i kara. Społeczeństwa wobec rozliczeń zbrodni popełnionych przez reżimy totalitarne w latach 1939–1956. Studia i materiały, Warszawa, 2015, pp. 192–201.


Membership in the Editorial Boards of Scholarly Journals

·      Istorija” (Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, Vilnius)

Tina Andersen