KGB Counterintelligence Dictionary on Radio Use

Radio has been used in intelligence work since the first Word War, and its practical use is no secret to any of the agencies in the world. In Soviet Union the intelligence was like fife edged star. The two edges facing west and east where the foreign intelligence wing. The top edge was the interior intelligence overlooking the Soviet people. But two lower edges were the ones keeping the star intact – the counter intelligence.  The counter intelligence is the shield of every agency guarding the agency and the country from foreign spies and influence. While radio communications and codes are top responsibility for foreign intelligence the counter intelligence is the one that must discover these communications, observe them, track them and then gain control them. Arrest the agent using the radio and get hold of his ciphers. Only the counter-intelligence can reveal the use of the numbers station by rival agency. That is why we have documents from CIA, FBI and KGB about use of the numbers station since they are used to incriminate the rival. So there is no wonder why lot of entries about radio use are within the KGB counter intelligence agencies.

The Latvian National Archive has begun publishing KGB agent cards from last three decades before 1991. To help understand these agent lists they also have included a “Counterintelligence Dictionary” published in Moscow by KGB school of interior security in 1972. The dictionary was made ease and unify the work of counterintelligence as the alphabetical list and definitions of terms and organizations where used in counterintelligence investigations and documentation. While these definitions might be well known to specialists, they can help radio historians on the specific topic of the radio intelligence and how its understood by the intelligence agency. As well as these terms are used in historic documents. As expected there will be no term like “numbers station” as such term is only used by media. Instead we present selected and translated entries on radio use so they can be useful for reading soviet intelligence documents and reports. The full PDF of the dictionary can be acquired here.

Агент-Радист – Agent-Radio Operator

Specially trained agent used for using radio communications between intelligence center and other part of intelligence (group of illegal resident in which he is part of). In particular cases he can act independently and send and gather intelligence sources.  He can be sent to foreign country and pose himself as local civilian.

Агентурная Радиопередача – Agency Radio Broadcast

Broadcast containing secret agency for agents or intelligence agencies using radio equipment.

Агентурная Радиосеть –Agency Radio Net

Secret communications between agents using radio equipment between intelligence agency transmitter and two or more transmitters for agents.

Агентурная Шифсязь – Agency Encrypted communication

Communication between agent and center using encrypted information using agency cipher.

Агентурный Радиоцентр – Agency Radio center 

Stationary intelligence radio transmitter, maintaining radio communications with agents in countries that that agency is doing its operations. The transmitter can be setup in native country or in other country and maintain one sided or two sided communications.

Агентурный Шифр – Agency Cipher

Cipher used secret correspondence with agent.

Антисоветские Радиостанции – Anti-Soviet Radio Stations

Long range radio stations used by imperialist countries, emigrant or different types of foreign organizations for broadcasting hostile propaganda and creating act of ideological diversion against the people of the socialist countries.

Anti-Soviet radio stations are being listed as official government agencies such as “Voice of America”, BBC, “Deutshe Welle” and special for broadcasting “white” propaganda (nationalistic-monarchist Red.), and unofficial formally not connected with government broadcasting on behalf of emigrant or anti-soviet organizations like “Radio Free Europe”. Unofficial anti-soviet radio stations  exist within intelligence agencies of the imperialist countries mainly American agencies and specialize in broadcasting “grey”  or “black” propaganda.

Anti-Soviet propaganda is also used for sending encrypted instructions as instructed by their agencies towards the socialist countries.

Аппаратура Шифрования – Encoding Equipment

Equipment used for encoding and decoding the incoming information. Encryption devices are categorized in accordance with their interaction with communication channels as preliminary encryption devices and linear encryption devices.

Ближняя Радиосвязь – Local radio communication

Radio communication meant to be used in small areas (from few meters to few kilometers) transmitted using low powered radio devices The spies of the capitalist countries are using local radio communications for radiogram exchange and designated signals or sometimes between themselves during espionage operations or to receive information using radio location equipment. For concealment the local radio communication is used mainly in ultra high frequency range while it can be used in all other ranges and uses the the fast working radio equipment for sending ultra short transmission.

Блокнот Ключевой – Key Pad

A pad containing tables that store elements of a cipher key. The tables are destroyed after usage with regards to instructions. Stitching and packaging of the pads is performed in a fashion the rules out unsolicited inspection.

Блокнот Перешифровальный – Recipher Pad

A pad containing tables that store ranges of numbers or letters. A recipher pad is made in the same form as a key pad. Usually it’s used to encrypt text that already was encrypted using a simple cipher.

Блокнот разовых ключей – One-Time Key Pad

A pad containing  elements of single-use cipher keys.

Блокнот суточных ключей – Daily Key Pad

A pad containing  elements of cipher keys that are valid only on certain date.

Быстродействующая радиоаппаратура – Fast working radio Equipment

Special automatic radio equipment allowing to send radio broadcast or radio call in fast speed (like few hundred to few thousand Morse alphabet signs in minute. Fast working radio equipment allows agents to make so call ultrashort broadcast that can last in few seconds. (Burst transmission).

 Гамма – Ciphertext

Ciphertext of symbols from artificial alphabet consisting either from characters or ciphers or combination of telegraphic code or other symbols needed for cryptographic uses.

Гамма Книжная – Cipher Book

Ciphertext made from fragment of random book

Двусторонняя Радиосвязь – TTwo Sided Radio Communications

Type of agency radio communications where agent and radio center is conducting two timed or one time radio communication with broadcast and reception. Such communication can be made if agent has receiver and transceiver,

Дежурный Диапазон Частот- Monitored Radio Frequency

Frequency selection that is under radio monitoring by radio counterintelligence duty.

Дешифрант – Decryption Sequence

Deciphering sequence is is a cipher form used when deciphering a message, E.g. in a deciphering sequence the encrypted message characters are sorted alphabetically or arithmetically, and the dictionary values are placed alongside encrypted characters

Дешифрование – Decryption

Analytical process of deciphering encoded information without knowing the used cipher.

Зашифрование- Encoding

Encoding of a open text into secret using ciphers.

Значност Шифра- Cipher character count 

a number of characters (numbers or letters) used in an encrypted message.

Ключ долговременный – Long Term Key

Cipher key element that acts unchanged for prolonged period of time determining the settings for using the cipher.

Ключ разовый – One time key

Key used for one time message encoding (decoding).

Ключ суточный-One Day Key

Key used for decoding (encoding) the message in one day time.

Ключ шифра- Cipher Key

Cipher key is a summary of data that ensures a choice of one defined transformation out of the number of all possible transformations in a system of ciphers


A substitution cipher, which cipher values include words, phrases, and complex dictionary values. Cipher values are represented in codes as alphanumeric combinations, called code designations.

Код алфавитный – Alphabetic code

A code in the form of dictionary, where dictionary values (cipher values) are sorted alphabetically, and their code designations – in ascending order (if numeric), or alphabetically (if alphabetic). An alphabetic code consists of one book, which is used both for encryption and decryption.

Кодирование – Encryption

A process of transforming information using a defined code.

Кодированная связь – Encrypted communication

A type of encrypted communication, designed for transferring secret information, as well as unclassified service messages,which are forbidden for transmission using open communication devices. Encrypted communication is usually provided by grassroots departments of agencies, carried out by regular coders and other staff members on part-time basis.

Кодировочная машина – Encryption machine

A device used for encryption of classified and unclassified service information. Encryption machines are used by grassroots departments of agencies.

Кодовая величина – Code value

A summary of a code’s dictionary value and its corresponding code designation.

Кодовые обозначения (кодообозначения) – Code designations

A cipher value of a code’s dictionary value. Code designations are represented as 3, 4 or 5-character long alphanumeric combinations.

Кодограмма – Codegram

A message encrypted with the help of encrypted communication documents or an encryption machine.

Криптограмма – Cryptogram

Encrypted text, designed according to effective rules on the use of cipher. A cryptogram, in addition to cipher text, contains an official or nominal address, urgency, and conditional groups.

Криптографическая стойкость – Cryptographic robustness

A set of properties of ciphers on which the possibility of decryption and its practical feasibility depend.

Криптографический анализ – Cryptographic Analysis

A special study of the cipher to determine the conditions under which it is not amenable to analytical disclosure. Such conditions are the allowable amount of information processed by the same keys, the disclosure of just a part of the keys, etc. Cryptographic analysis allows to determine the need or desirability of making changes in the cipher system.

Криптография – Cryptography

The science that studies the transformation of open information into classified information for transmission over communication means, as well as analytical methods for the disclosure of encrypted correspondence and ciphers.
Cryptography uses mathematical methods and achievements of modern physics and technology, specifically electronic computers, etc.

Линейное шифрование – Linear encryption

An encryption method in which the processes of encryption and decryption are performed directly in the process of transmitting (receiving) information over a communication channel.

Линия агентурной радиосвязи – Undercover radio communication channel

The agent’s radio communication with hostile intelligence

Линейное шифрование  – Line Encryption

Encryption method where the process of encryption and decryption is carried out during broadcast reception on the communications channel.

Общая перешифровальная система (ОПС) – Common Encryption System

Set of encryption tools needed for encrypting common communications using written numbers. The number of every set is equal of the number cypher users using the encrypted communication net. The keys for the sets are within cypher users regarding the numbers of communications sent from them.

Односторонняя радиосвязь – One sided radio communication

Type of agency communications where one of the correspondents are sending only radio broadcast and other only reception. Common type of radio communication for radio broadcast from radio center to the agent. For this purpose, the agent can use radio receiver that has appropriate shortwave range. One sided radio communications also can be used with fast working radio equipment and ultra-high frequency range.

Оперативная радиообстановка – Operational radio situation

Collection of settings characterizing the situation in agency radio nets (existence and number of agency radio centers, intensity of transmissions between agents and capacity of the radio counter intelligence.

Оперативная радиосвязь – Operational Radio Communication

Radio communication used during operational events.

Основная шифрованная связь – Main encrypted communication

Encrypted communication used for emergent important and highly classified and secret information.  For radio nets main encrypted communications use highly useful numbers that are used by specially trained encrypters.

Перешифрование – De-encoding

Secondary encoding of the information using new cipher.


План агентурной радиосвязи – Agency radio communication plan


Document determining organization and carrying the radio communication (two sided and one sided). Plan consists of few light size tables containing time and date of the scheduled radio broadcast, interval signals, frequencies, cipher groups or characters for deciphering during radio broadcast.

Plan is made in common form as made by the agency.


Радиограмма – Radiogram (Radio Broadcast)

Signal sent from agency radio center or by agent.

Радиоконтроль – Radio Control

Set of actions used for discovering use of secret information trough radio channels

Радиоконтрразведка – Radio Counter Inteligence

  • In functional meaning – a variety of counterintelligence work carried out to discover radio broadcasts and discovering location of the agency radio station.
  • In organizational terms – special division of services of the state security, that works with counterintelligence. In KGB under the authority of Soviet of Ministers of USSR the radio counter intelligence division is called “service R”)

Радиомаяк – Radio Beacon

A transmitting or transcieving radio station  signals serve as guidance for ships or aircraft. There are directional and non-directional beacons. In directional radio beacons, the strength and nature of the emitted signal depend on the direction of radiation, in non-directional radio beacons the radiation is directed equally in all directions. The direction to the radio beacon is determined by the radio direction finder.
Radio beacon is used by foreign intelligence services as a means of  aircraft and ships target guidance. US intelligence uses radio beacons as a means of guiding aircraft towards areas where it is planned to drop paratroop agents or spy equipment.

Радиопеленгатор – Radio Direction Finder

A special radio device, which is used to determine the direction to a transmitting radio station. The radio direction finder allows to determine the location of the radio station (direction finding of a foreign station) or to determine your own location (self-direction finding) using the known location of monitored radio stations.

Радиопочерк – Radio “hand”

Is a summary of robust and characteristic features of the radio operator’s key work when transmitting in Morse code. (This term is likened to handwriting in the Russian definition)

Радиомаскировка- Radio Counter Measure

Set of organizational, technical and operative actions used to weaken the advisory radio intelligence and disinform it. Radio counter measures uses resources weakening the radio location and radio transmission in limited areas and partial closure of the frequency range using radio technical equipment, change of call signs and frequencies, making radio broadcast without a callsign, creating fake radio channels and directions and also other special actions.

Радиоразведка – Radio Intelligence

Field of technical intelligence. Radio intelligence allows to acquire information by tracking and listening to radio communications (open and encoded).


Радионаблюдение – Radio Tracking

Monitoring the tasked frequencies to discover radio signals.

Радиопеленгатор – Radio Triangulation device

Special radio technical device that determines the signal direction of a working radio station. Radio Triangulation device by its own location allows to track location of the radio station (rogue triangulation) or


Радиопеленгаторная станция – Radio triangulation station

Unit of radio locational service, military set of radio technical equipment for triangulating radio stations and other sources of radio signal.


 Радиоперехват – Radio Surveillance

One of the uses of radio intelligence and radio counterintelligence. Radio surveillance is carried out by receiving and taping the radio broadcast and investigating the adversary radio technical equipment using common or special radio technical equipment. Radio surveillance can be done in home country and in foreign country.

In radio intelligence the radio tracking is mostly used for receiving data on activities of the state institutions, industrial and scientific objects and military of the country under surveillance.

In radio counter intelligence the radio surveillance is used to hinder, track and apprehend the illegal radio stations of the adversary, surveillance of the adversary radio intelligence and radio counter intelligence channels, and also to control domestic radio stations and radio technical units of own country to prevent the leaks of secret information.


 Радиопротиводействие – Radio jamming

Creation of artificial interference weakening or fully obstructing the work of the adversary radio technical equipment


Разведка радиолокационная – Radio locational intelligence

Part of the technical intelligence used on radio tracking radio equipment (stationary and mobile stations) to determine the location of the land, sea and air objects, the missile path, locations of nuclear explosions ect. Modern radio location equipment allows to create apparent contour of the object.

Расшифрование – Encoding

Process of acquiring open text that is encoded using cipher key.

Служба Р – Service R

Operational – technical unit within KGB, carrying out radio counter intelligence actions using radio technical equipment with close cooperation with operative units of the state security.

Управляемая радиосвязь – Controlled radio communication

Radio communication where radio center first enters communications and controls the work of its correspondent. For example, basing on circumstances of the propagation, radio center before beginning communications issues frequencies that correspondent must use, determines the order of the sending the radiograms its repeats and so on.

Словарная величина – Dictionary value

An element of open text, included into a code dictionary

Шифр – Cipher

A set of conditional rules, documents, technical devices, with the help of which the plain-text is encrypted.

Шифр аварийный – Emergency cipher

A cipher intended for use in cases of compromise, loss or compulsory destruction of the main effective cipher.

Шифрование – Encipherment

See Encoding.

Шифрованная связь – Ciphered communication

A type of special communication, organized with the help of manual ciphers or pre-encryption machines in order to ensure the security of state, military and service secrets when transmitting messages via technical means of communication.
Depending on the degree of secrecy of the transmitted information and the conditions of its use, the encrypted communication is divided into basic and encoded. For communication with agents and undercover intelligence officers, agential ciphered communication is being used.

Шифровеличина – Cipher value

An element of open information (phrase, word, letter, digit, impulse, etc.) to be encrypted or obtained through decryption.

Шифрообозначение – Cipher designation

An element of encrypted information (digit, character, impulse, etc.), obtained as a result of the conversion of the cipher value.

Шифросвязь индивидуальная – Individual cipher communication

Ciphered communication, organized for the exchange of encrypted messages only between two correspondents. Individual encryption may be one-way, in which the ability to encrypt messages is provided only to one of two correspondents, or two-way, when each correspondent can send encrypted messages.

Шифросвязь общая – Common cipher communication

Ciphered communication, which uses the same cipher for communication between several correspondents, each of which can conduct encrypted correspondence with any other correspondent or with all of them simultaneously.

Шифросвязь циркулярная – Circular cipher communication

One-way encrypted communication in which all correspondents use the same cipher, but only one correspondent has the right to encrypt messages and send cryptograms, and the rest use this cipher only to decrypt the cryptograms sent to them. Circular cipher communication is organized, as a rule, from top to bottom, between the central cipher entity and its associates.

Шифротелеграмма – Cipher Telegram

A plain-text message prepared for encryption or received as a result of decryption. Texts of such telegrams are usually written in special forms.

Шифрработник – Cipher Operator

An employee of an agency who has special training and access to work with ciphers.