Circling the Lion's Den

Foreign intelligence Academy

The educational institution was set up in Soviet times for the KGB's First Main Directorate (PGU), and from 1991 for the SVR.

In 1938 the Special Purpose School (ShON). Initially housed in five modest dacha houses just outside Moscow, set away from the road behind a seemingly inconspicuous green fence, the school was established on the personal order of Stalin by virtue of the exceptional circumstances according to the official historians, when the Soviet intelligence system felt the acute need for qualified staff, capable of working in the difficult pre-war condition. In fact, almost the entire Foreign Department of the OGPU had been shot during the purges of the 1930's, as had the Comintern's intelligence branch.

In their place came a new generation of semi-literate proletarians and peasants, and the special educational establishment was needed for their training. The earlier, individual, approach to training was no longer suitable, since they had to train several hundred raw recruits to replace the central apparatus and foreign residency staff who had been shot.

From 1938 the ShON turned out several classes of graduates, thirty in each, who had to plug the gaps in Spain, before heading to the nearest German front. During the first phase of the Second World War the emphasis was on diversionary tactics and tactical military espionage. Neither manpower nor resources sufficed to train them to work in other countries.

In 1943, at the turning point of the war, the ShON was reorganized and renamed into the Intelligence School (RaSh) under the 1-st Directorate of the People's Commisariat of State Security of the USSR. The war was unfolding on the territory of European states, and the reformed school had to prepare intelligence staff to support the USSR's expanded role on the world stage.

At the peak of the Cold War, the RaSh, renamed as the Higher Intelligence School, underwent a new reform: the study programmes were changed, new departments and disciplines were created. In KGB internal correspondence it was commonly called the 101st School (in the forest).

In 1968 the Higher Intelligence School was re-organized into the USSR KGB Krasnoznamennyi Institute (KI) and took Andropov's name after his death.

For language tuition the Institute ran three year courses at specialist faculties, where KGB agents from regional directorates and graduates of non-language courses at university, were sent for training. In groups no larger than five, the young students, who were for the most part the daughters of current or former intelligence officers, spent three years attempting to learn to speak and write a foreign language totally fluently.

The three year courses also included subjects intended to enhance the student's understanding of intenational affairs, and problems.

Practical classes on carrying out covert metings with agents, safehouses, undercover operations, recruitment approaches, were all carried out in the city with private tutors, former intelligence officers, pensioners with an average age of 70 to 75. In these one to one classes, these dinosaurs of espionage, who had retired 15 to 20 years previously, in theory had to give their students a sense of modern conditions to be expected abroad.

KI sites were consciously scattered all across Moscow and in the forests just outside the city, and were known by names of invented sanatoriums, pioneer camps, holiday resorts, laboratories and academic research centres, none of which actually existed. The key complex of buildings was situated near the village of Chelobit'evo, in the Mytishchensky district of the Moscow Region.

After the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), its head Evgeny Primakov convinced Yeltsin to sign Secret Decree No1999-s dated 10.17.94 on the creation of a Foreign Intelligence Academy.

Agentura.Ru 2010