KGB Espionage Museum: Exposing the Russian Spy Toolkit

Miguel Moreno
By Miguel Moreno
June 15, 2019New York
KGB Espionage Museum: Exposing the Russian Spy Toolkit
KGB Fialka M-125, USSR rotor-based cipher machine (Courtesy of KGB Museum)

The KGB Espionage Museum has declassified the shady tricks and tactics of the former-Soviet Union’s multi-faceted right arm. The museum claims to present itself in an “informative and entertaining way,” without a “political bias.”

But upon entry, we were greeted by the sound of vintage Russian radio transmissions, and the curator, Agnes Urbaityte, wearing what appeared to be a communist uniform with the star of the Red Army pinned on her costume. It was a curious greeting.

Urbaityte moved to New York City from Lithuania and opened the museum in January. Her father, who has collected KGB equipment for 30 years, owns another museum in Lithuania focusing on World War II. Both the largest collections of KGB items and gas masks are owned by the family.

“Here there are a lot of different perspectives and it depends on people, what they want to bring out of the museum,” said Urbaityte, “because we are totally apolitical: we are showing the facts, we are showing the artifacts, we are showing them the sad part, like how many people were imprisoned and killed, so everyone leaves with their own thoughts.”

But they also have a gift shop. And some of the merchandise they sell is KGB propaganda, including lighters labeled with Vladimir Lennon, Red Army medallions, and Soviet uniforms.

Umbrella of Death

The artifacts were reminiscent of James Bond; the irony is that James Bond was not a communist, nor did he try to subvert a foreign nation⁠.

To begin, we were introduced to the “Killer Umbrella,” which when triggered near the handle, shoots a small ball of ricin poison. This poison is highly toxic: about two milligrams is enough to kill an average adult.

Other items included the easy-switch car bumpers, deadly lipstick⁠—which was a gun⁠, a tree branch with a built-in camera, and encryption machines.

However, as intriguing as the items were, espionage was not the Soviet arm’s priority, according to Yuri Bezmenov, a former KGB agent that defected to Canada.

“Only about 15 percent of time, money, and manpower is spent on espionage and such,” said Bezmenov in an interview with G. Edward Griffin in 1984. “The other 85 percent is a slow process, which we call either ideological subversion or active measures, or physiological warfare.”

This process would leave Americans without sensible morals, leaving them unable to come to sensible conclusions when faced with the prospect of defending their families or their country, he explained.

And how is this accomplished?

Trevor Loudon—an investigative journalist, author, and writer at The Epoch Times—has researched the communist movement since the 1980s. He found that American media, businesses, politics, and the education system have been infiltrated by left-wing organizations, according to an editorial series by The Epoch Times.

Over the course of time, a generation of children is indoctrinated with communist ideologies, thus such organizations accomplish the goal of ideological subversion, according to Bezmenov.

A Not so Critical Approach

The museum gives its guests a unique experience and contains a playful atmosphere, but the reality is that the KGB and its history was not playful in the least.

Besides stealing intelligence from foreign nations such as the United States, the KGB would kidnap and assassinate people with anti-Soviet notions. It also ran notorious Gulags under its former name, the NKVD, where over one million people perished, according to various reports.

While the intention of the museum may be to inform its guests about the KGB, by providing its propaganda for purchase and avoiding the conversation about the regime’s political agenda, it does make one question the sincerity and objective of the museum’s mission.

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