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Kryuchkov, Vladimir Alexandrovich


(b. 1924), Soviet police official; head of the KGB from 1988 to 1991.

Born in Volgograd, Russia, Vladimir Kryuchkov joined the Communist Party in 1944 and became a full-time employee of the Communist Youth League (Komsomol ). In 1946 Kryuchkov embarked on a legal career, working as an investigator for the prosecutor's office and studying at the All-Union Juridical Correspondence Institute, from which he received a diploma in 1949. Kryuchkov joined the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1951 and enrolled as a student at the Higher Diplomatic School in Moscow. He received his first assignment abroad in 1955, when he was sent to Hungary to serve under Soviet Ambassador Yuri Andropov. Kryuchkov was in Budapest during the Soviet invasion in 1956 and was an eyewitness to the brutal suppression of Hungarian nationalists by Soviet troops. After returning to Moscow in 1959, he worked in the Central Committee Department for Liaison with Socialist Countries, which his former supervisor Andropov now headed. In 1967, when Andropov was appointed to the leadership of the KGB, the Soviet police and intelligence apparatus, he brought Kryuchkov, who rose to the post of chief of the KGB's First Chief Directorate (foreign intelligence) in 1977. In 1988 Soviet party leader Mikhail Gorbachev appointed Kryuchkov chairman of the KGB. Although Kryuchkov voiced public support for Gorbachev's liberal reforms, he grew increasingly alarmed by the threats to Soviet unity posed by the non-Russian republics. In August 1991, Kryuchkov and his hard-line colleagues in the government declared a state of emergency in the country, hoping that Gorbachev, who was vacationing in the Crimea, would support them. When Gorbachev refused, they backed down and were arrested. Kryuchkov was released from prison in 1993 and in 1996 published his memoirs, A Personal File (Lichnoye delo ), where he defended his attempt to keep the Soviet Union together and accused Gorbachev of weakness and duplicity.

See also: andropov, yuri vladimirovich; august 1991 putsch; gorbachev, mikhail sergeevich; intelligence services; state security, organs of


Knight, Amy. (1988). The KGB: Police and Politics in the Soviet Union. Boston: Allen and Unwin.

Knight, Amy. (1996). Spies Without Cloaks: The KGB's Successors. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Amy Knight

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