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The KGB Campaign against Corruption in Moscow, 1982-1987

Luc Duhamel

Publication Year: 2010

The 1980s brought a whirlwind of change to Communist Party politics and the Soviet Republic. By mid-decade, Gorbachev's policies of perestroika and glasnost had opened the door to democratic reform. Later, mounting public unrest over the failed economy and calls for independence among many republics ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Often overlooked in these events, yet monumental to breaking the Communist Party's institutional stranglehold, were the KGB anticorruption campaigns of 1982 to 1987. In this original study, Luc Duhamel examines the KGB at its pinnacle of power. The appointment of former KGB director Yuri Andropov as general secretary of the Communist Party in 1982 marked the height of KGB influence. For the first time since Stalin, Beria, and the NKVD, there was now an unquestioned authority to pursue violators of Soviet law, including members of the Communist Party. Duhamel focuses on the KGB's investigation into Moscow's two largest trade organizations: the Chief Administration of Trade and the Administration of the Moscow Fruit and Vegetable Office. Like many of their Soviet counterparts, these state-controlled institutions were built on a foundation of bribery and favoritism among Communist Party members, workers, and their bosses. This book analyzes the multifarious networks of influence peddling, appointments, and clientelism that pervaded these trade organizations and maintained their ties to party officials. Duhamel uncovers the indictment of thousands of trade organization employees, the reprimand of Communist Party members, and the radical change in political ideology manifested by these proceedings. He further reveals that despite aggressive prosecutions, the KGB's power would soon wither, as the agency came under intense scrutiny because of its violent methods and the ghosts of the NKVD.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Front Cover

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pp. ix-xv

By investigating the corruption permeating the internal trade organizations of the Soviet Union—and, more precisely, the Moscow trade network—we can learn a great deal about the Soviet system under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev from the 1960s until 1982. The rise of the trade organizations’ power and political influence reflected in many ways the overall evolution of the Soviet system during the Brezhnev...

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Chapter 1: A Force That Eluded Control: The Rise of the Moscow Trade Organizations

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pp. 1-42

In the Soviet Union, from the era of Lenin to that of Chernenko, the Communist Party never lost its power to another political force. Nevertheless, its authority was challenged, and some specialists argue that it occasionally lost its grip on Russian society. To support their argument, scholars have pointed to the 1930s and to the period from 1947 to 1953, when the KGB, by creating a climate of terror, accumulated so much power...

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Chapter 2: Integrity and Efficiency: The KGB’s Anticorruption War

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pp. 42-99

The KGB was shaped by the nature of the Soviet regime, which gave it an increasingly important role after 1917, as well as by the character of its leaders. During the first years of the Soviet Union, it constituted a powerful force because the regime had weak support and was in danger of collapse, thus making recourse to repression very appealing. In 1917, Lenin appointed Dzerzhinski the first leader of the Cheka (All-Russian...

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Chapter 3: Who, How Many, and How Much? Corruption in the Moscow Trade Organizations

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pp. 100-139

From analyzing the impact of the KGB’s crackdown on the trade organizations, we now turn to an analysis of those who were suspected, accused, and convicted of corruption and to the scope of bribe-giving as a form of corruption in the Moscow trade network, scope being a reference to the number of people and the amount of money involved. Among the published analyses of the different facets of this corruption, none has yet given concrete details on the employees in the trade organizations...

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Chapter 4: The War the KBG Lost

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pp. 140-200

The Moscow trade network was already a political force in the Brezhnev era, having acquired considerable influence during the 1960s due to its increasing autonomy in the allocation of resources in the capital. Its political successes were most apparent in the food sector. The leaders of the Moscow trade organization used their influence to promote their interests and were quick to defend the interests of their organizations whenever they were threatened.1 This was particularly true in the 1980s, when...

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Conclusion: Changes in the Moscow Trade Organizations

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pp. 201-211

The nomination of Andropov to be leader of the Communist Party in 1982 was a clear sign that the KGB had regained a level of power in the Soviet political system that it had not had since the 1930s. The security force’s influence had increased during the 1970s, primarily through its battle against lawbreakers—speculators and smugglers, among others—a battle in which, by Soviet standards, the KGB was successful. These operations enlarged the KGB’s responsibilities, particularly when it was...


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pp. 213-215


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pp. 217-230


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pp. 231-235


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pp. 237-249


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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780822973850
E-ISBN-10: 0822973855
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822961086
Print-ISBN-10: 0822961083

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 794925545
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The KGB Campaign against Corruption in Moscow, 1982-1987

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Trade associations -- Corrupt practices -- Russia (Federation) -- Moscow -- History -- 20th century.
  • Corruption -- Russia (Federation) -- Moscow -- History -- 20th century.
  • Political corruption -- Russia (Federation) -- Moscow -- History -- 20th century.
  • Soviet Union -- Commerce -- History.
  • Soviet Union -- Politics and government -- 1953-1985.
  • Moscow (Russia) -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Soviet Union -- Politics and government -- 1985-1991.
  • Soviet Union. Komitet gosudarstvennoĭ bezopasnosti -- History.
  • Moscow (Russia) -- Commerce -- History -- 20th century.
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