From Lithuania to New York: KGB Dedicated to Intelligence
Kaunas, Lithuania 2014 year. The nuclear bunker has become a haven for a unique spy museum. At a depth of 6 meters underground is a private collection of unusual exhibits. Of interest is the exposition “KGB Spy Museum”. This is a collection of devices and instruments for covert surveillance that were used by the NKVD, the KGB and other special services. The “KGB bunker” is filled with equipment for secret hacking and search: telephones, portable secret radio communications, radio transmitters and receivers, communication blockers, direction finders, bugs and all kinds of spyware. The curators of the museum are the Urbaitis family: father and daughter. The head of the family devoted more than 30 years of his life to the cause, thanks to his unusual hobby, he had the opportunity to see and touch the secret special equipment of the KGB.
Julius Urbaitis and Agne Urbaitis
Hidden cameras and wiretapping equipment (bugs) were used to record conversations during covert operations. Photographs of people, places, documents made in this way could then be used for blackmail. The operations to collect compromising materials required not only highly trained specialists (spies), but also the use of expensive equipment. Listening devices could be placed anywhere: in the house, in the car, in the park, in the bathroom, even in the chip on the ear of your favorite pet. All this allowed the KGB to record and track information that could be used in any profitable special services appointments.
An indispensable device for any agent was and is a camera. In the KGB Museum, one can see firsthand the history of the development of spy cameras, including super-miniature, hidden and photocopiers.
The subminiature TOCHKA-58 camera is also presented here. It was developed in 1958 on the basis of the American MINOX camera. A unique prototype, where the same principles were used – film supply scheme, cassette design and other details of the device. The purpose of the mechanical super-miniature POINTS (dimensions-83x30x15 mm) is nothing but pure espionage. Technical characteristics of such a camera: negative size – 8.5 x 11 mm, used film – 9.5 mm in Minox cassettes, shutter speed – 1/10, 1/50, 1/150 and 1/400 sec, film rewind – 27 frames sequentially using a spring motor and a cocking shutter.
The museum presents indispensable equipment in the field of espionage – recording devices, their agents of the KGB used to collect information, secretly record conversations, listen to telephone lines, wiretap rooms with bugs.
Among the exhibits of the museum is the most miniature recording device of the Cold War Mi-51. A miracle of technology with dimensions of only 17 x 11 x 3.5 cm, easily fit in a pocket or purse. This battery-powered gadget worked and could record for two hours. The Mi-51 camera was also used by the United States intelligence agencies.
Wristwatch-microphone equipped with Mi-51. The microphone was connected to the recorder using a wire.
Another unique equipment presented at the museum is the spy voice recorder Yachta / Yacht / Yavir-1. A two-channel voice recorder, a copy of the legendary Swiss voice recorder Nagra SNST was developed in 1987 (Kiev, Ukraine). Outwardly, it differed from the Swiss original only in the absence of a dial indicator of power / signal level.
Specifications of the recorder Yacht-1M / Yavir-1:
- Dimensions – 156 x 103 x 27 mm
- Weight – 600 grams (without batteries and coils)
- Stabilized belt speed – 2.38 cm / sec
- Tape Width – 3.81 mm
- Power supply – 2-3 V, two AA batteries, according to the passport the elements of A-316 Prima, or TsNK-0.45 batteries
- Frequency band – 170 – 6000 Hz
- Knock coefficient – not more than 0.35%
- Harmonic distortion coefficient – not more than 3%
Special attention deserves the exhibition of cryptographic machines of the Cold War. The most sophisticated exhibit is the Soviet granddaughter of the legendary Enigma – the crypto machine Violet M-125. The electromechanical 10 rotary cryptographic machine was developed in 1956, and soon became the most popular in the Warsaw Pact countries. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the surviving Violets were dismantled or destroyed. Nevertheless, the museum managed to get one copy and save it. Visitors can enjoy this Soviet-inspired masterpiece.
Spy radio stations
It is no less interesting to plunge into the history of the development of spy radio stations, to trace the evolution of the development of special equipment radio equipment. In addition to the function of receiving and transmitting messages over long distances, spy radio stations had to have sufficient compactness for imperceptible transportation.
RION, SEGA A610, R-350 Orel – honorary exhibits of the exhibition.
The short-wave transmit-receive portable telegraph radio station “ RION ” was intended for simplex and half-duplex two-way communication, was used in secret operations, worked in the frequency range from 2.5 to 10 MHz (transmitter) and from 2 to 12 MHz (receiver PR-56 ) A station weighing 37 kilograms with all components was housed in two suitcases, the device could be powered in the field from a 12 volt battery with a capacity of at least 45 ampere-hours.
R-350 is the first Soviet spy radio station launched into mass production. Extremely easy to maintain, reliable station was used by special forces, the GRU, the mobile reconnaissance groups of the MGB parachute assault. The device consisted of a transmitter, receiver and power source. The R-350 was improved and began to be produced as the R-350M. The frequency range of the transmitter was from 1800 to 1200 kHz (167-25 m), and the output power was not less than 6 watts. The frequency range of the receiver was from 1800 to 7000 kHz (167-42.9 m).
Pinwheel is the telephone of a closed special communications system for the organs of party and state power of the USSR. Separately, the turntables were not suitable for secret negotiations, only in conjunction with other systems of secure government communications could serve a common purpose. ATS-1 (relied on to the highest echelon of power), ATS-2 (relied on the level a la Deputy Minister) – ivory telephone disks with emblems.
Interestingly, confidential telephone connections were maintained using the so-called “high-frequency” telephone service even before World War II. They were considered the safest telephone lines in the Soviet Union. Government HF communications was to “provide clear, prompt and at the same time high-quality service to the USSR government and the NKVD leadership by telephone.” Initially, the use of HF communication devices was allowed only to persons to whom the device was personally installed or to their immediate deputies, and in order to preserve state secrets, conducting secret negotiations or transmitting telegrams via HF communication in clear text.
Interest in espionage equipment from the time of the USSR is uniquely high. Evidence of this fact is the opening, under the supervision of the Urbaitis family, another unique museum in the United States last year (the owners reserved the right to remain in the shade). 3,500 exhibits on West 14th Street in Manhattan are silent witnesses to Soviet intelligence affairs.
But this museum, according to Ms. Urbaitis, is apolitical. It is of historical value, dedicated to technological progress. Her father, 55-year-old Julius Urbaitis, devoted 3 decades to collecting the collection. At first he was interested in artifacts from the Second World War, later he acquired a wiretap device owned by Adolf Hitler, and so began his journey of espionage. Some exhibits from the Nuclear Bunker migrated to the new museum.
Radio transmitters, cryptographic machines, miniature cameras … these are just a few of the presented objects of the exhibition. Along with the equipment – the reconstruction of the workplaces of KGB agents, a collection of heavy steel handcuffs, an interrogation chair with leather straps and a poison needle umbrella, which killed Bulgarian dissident Georgy Markov in 1978.
At first glance, the museum has mundane things – plates, boots, accessories. But how many devices they hide from their eyes, they only have to “dig” deeper. After visiting this kind of cultural institution, any object, even the most harmless, whether it be lipstick or an umbrella, will seem an espionage tool.
Why Lithuania and the USA? “The storage of such special equipment in Russia, for example, is a criminal offense and is punishable by imprisonment of up to 6 years. This technique in Russia is still not declassified, so it is not there and in the near future there can be no such museums. ”
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