KGB GROUP A
28 July 1974 via a unique, hand-written letter. Officially designated Group A, the media came to refer to the unit as "Alfa" after 1991.
KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov authorized the formation of group Alfa on
This unit has taken part in virtually all hostage rescue operations in Russia since its formation. During this time, no hostages have been injured and no operation has failed. Those operation which Alfa did not participate in (local authorities usually have jurisdiction over which team is used) oftentimes ended tragically, notably with the deaths of the hostages.
The group was made up of KGB personnel from Moscow and nationwide, with priority given to those who excelled at certain types of sports. Those selected were then trained in driving techniques (from automobiles to armored cars) and in the use of all types of firearms, in addition to numerous other skills.
Structure of group Alfa includes subdivision for underwater demolition and combat. The members of this unit trained on the Baltic fleet and in Cuba.
The structure of Alfa includes explosives experts, climbers, snipers, experts in negotiating, an analytical center, and psychologists. Ranks of the employees of group - from lieutenant to the colonel.
In USSR there were regional branches of group Alfa, which were in republics USSR. The most powerful one was in Ukraine. These have now become national antiterrorist groups in the independent states. In Russia the regional branches of group Alfa are located in Krasnodar and in Ekaterinburg.
One of the most notable operations involving Alfa took place in the opening phase of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan:
The Assault on the Palace Dar-ul-aman (Afghanistan, December 27, 1979)
In Afghanistan, the Alfa's orders were: investigation of structures, location, intentions of mujahideen, capture and liquidation of the leaders of mujahideen, search and destruction of warehouses of the weapon and ammunition, army headquarters and signal centers, search and rescue soldiers from captivity, help of the Afghani army in organization of subversive groups. Their first goal, however, was an assault on the palace Dar-ul-aman.
The palace of Amin had been built on an elevated area, which provided an excellent 360-degree view of the surrounding area. This three story building featured extremely well constructed walls (23mm shells from ADV-vehicles could not penetrate these walls). There was only one road into the palace, which was under constant watch by palace security personnel. The palace complex typically housed approximately 2,000 guards, with the barracks of the guards located on the third story of the palace. On the 27th of December, however, only 500 guards were present. They were reinforced by eleven tanks, two of which were dug in at the gate to the palace.
Near the palace grounds there was also a general Afghanistan Army headquarters building with its own complement of soldiers and an air defense system. Approximately 500 meters from the palace was also a building housing a regiment of gendarmeries (police).
For the assault, Alfa's soldiers were divided into two groups, "Grom" (Thunder) and "Zenith". Thunder was composed of 25 men, two ADV vehicles with the ZSU 23-4 "Shilka", six BTR-60's and six BMP-1's. Zenith was composed of 24 KGB men. The Moslem battalion is other subdivision, which provided only cover of assault and consists of conscripted soldiers.
The sign for the start of the operation was the explosive destruction of a signal center in the city of Kabul. When this happened, the Shilka's opened fire on the palace. Thunder group on BMP's then moved towards the palace. Zenith also moved forward via a foot ladder towards the palace.
To prevent reinforcements from approaching from the opposite side, and to prevent any palace guards from escaping, the Muslim Battalion opened fire with two Shilkas (normally used for anti-aircraft duties) then opened up, providing devastating fire. Simultaneously, a smaller team designated "Carandoy" (made up of personnel from Thunder, Zenith, and an airborne unit) assaulted and captured the Ministry of Foreign Business in Kabul. Two soldiers from Thunder along with a platoon of paratroopers also captured the Afghanistan Air Force Staff. Four men from Thunder and Zenith then commandeered the two tanks at the front of the palace and captured the gendarmerie post.
As the BTR's and BMP's began to advance, however, they were taken under heavy automatic weapons and antitank fire. One of Zenith's BTR's was destroyed and caught fire, and one of Thunder's BMP's was so severely damaged that she had to be abandoned.
In the first two minutes after the teams left their armored vehicles, thirteen soldiers from Thunder were wounded. Despite this, massed fire overwhelmed the palace guards and Alfa made entry into the place itself. The Shilkas continued to fire at the second story, as Afghan guards tossed hand grenades and opened fire with a machine gun. As the Alfa soldiers made their way upstairs, they used their own grenades to eliminate the Afghans. Once on the second story, the soldiers lobbed grenades into each room. Amin was in his study when a grenade exploded, killing him. Some more fighting ensued, but shortly thereafter, Alfa had successfully taken the palace and set up defenses.
By the time the assault was over, nearly all of the assault personnel had been injured. One soldier lost a hand while approaching a ladder to the second story, while another took a round through the neck. Others received bullet and fragmentation wounds to the stomach, legs, and hands. At least five Alfa soldiers were killed. In the morning, the Vitebsk parachute division landed at the airport at Bagram City and the invasion of Afghanistan was underway.
Sarapul City, December 17, 1981.
On 17 December 1981, two military conscripts took 25 boys hostage at a school. The men carried AK-74 assault rifles and 120 rounds of ammunition. They demanded foreign passports, visas, and airline transportation to any capitalist country. After a long period of negotiation, the terrorists release some of the hostages, but kept seven. Unbeknownst to the hostage-takers, soldiers from Alfa had penetrated the building and approached the doors of the study in which the hostages were being held. In exchange for foreign passports, the criminals released the rest of the hostages. As Alfa prepared to storm the study to arrest or eliminate the hostage-takers, one of them threw down his weapon and was arrested. Alfa then charged into the room and disarmed the second criminal, then took both of them into custody.
Ilya Ufa City, September 20, 1986
Three soldiers of an urgent service, armed automatic device (AK), manual machine gun RPK, sniper rifle SVD autocratically have left a military base, have grasped a taxi and have gone to the direction of the airport. Behind the automobile of criminals casually there was an automobile of militia. The criminals have decided that them pursue and have opened fire on the automobile. Two employees of militia were killed. After that one criminal with SVD escaped in a wood (was frightened and has escaped), and the two others have continued movement to the airport. At the airport the criminals have grasped the plane TU - 134 A, which just has landed. In the plane - 5 crewmen and 76 passengers. In a propagation time of a service the criminals consisted in not regular group on neutralization of the terrorists in planes and trained in penetration into the plane, clearing of the hostages. All variants of these operations they knew perfectly. The requirements: to fly to Pakistan. Soon after capture of the plane there was kill one passenger - something not that has told to the terrorists and one of them has opened fire. It seemed to the second terrorist, that someone shoots in them and he has let out burst (from automaton) on interior - some passengers have appeared are wounded. The stewardesses have persuaded of the gangsters to bear killed, then to let out wounded, then - 4 women with children. Under a pretext of centering of the plane the stewardess has persuaded to let out else some passengers. It was possible to let out 46 passengers. Alfa has arrived in Ufa city and at once group of capture has held a cabin of the plane. The snipers controlled moving the terrorists on interior. Any of used before methods of penetration in the plane did not approach (suit) - all hatches were blocked, the criminals constantly controlled ways of possible (probable) penetration. By the similar plane the new method of penetration in the plane was fulfilled which else never was used. The criminals have demanded drugs. The drugs were given
, but in drugs the soporific was added. One of criminals, having accepted drugs, has fallen asleep. The second drugs has not accepted, but too napped. One of the stewardesses cautiously has taken away a machine gun. The criminal has woken up also stewardess at once has offered him of drugs. Having accepted drugs, the criminal has lost the control above a situation and at the request of the stewardess has let out of all hostages and stewardesses. Having come round, the criminals began to search for a machine gun, beginning to break in a cabin of the pilots. The public prosecutor long did not give the sanction to a use of weapons. Then even so the public prosecutor has made a decision - to shoot only if criminals will open fire, that is if will kill someone from group of capture. The sanction on use of the weapon at last is received. The group rushes into interior from a cabin of the pilots. One of criminals of the beginnings to shoot at the party of group of capture. By answer-back fire he is killed. The second criminal tried to pick up the fallen automatic device, but the employees of Alfa having time (were in time) to braid him.
Military air station Veshevo (near Leningrad), March 8, 1988
In this operation Alfa did not accept action. The plane TU - 154 was grasped by the terrorists. The requirements: to fly to England. The crew of the plane has explained to the terrorists, that fuel up to England will not suffice. Then the terrorists have commanded to make landing at any foreign airport. The crew agrees. At Leningrad it became clear, that fuel up to the nearest foreign airport will not suffice. The chief of flights gives the instruction (indication) to make landing at the airport Veshevo. The plane makes a maneuver for call on landing. The terrorists in a panic. The stewardess calms the terrorists, speaks, that the plane makes landing in Finland. At 16.05 plane has landed. At once to the plane the soldiers have run. Under their form and equipment the terrorists have understood, that them have deceived. The terrorists in a panic shoot at a door of a cabin of the pilots shout. The stewardesses try to calm the terrorists, but 1 stewardess the terrorists kill!
The automobile - tanker has approached to the plane. The gangsters have seen, that in a tender the officer in the form sits, and the soldiers, who have surrounded the plane, submit group of capture gestures by hands. Terrorists in despair. At 19.10 group of capture (consisting from fast of the collected employees of militia) has rushed into the plane from a cabin of the pilots. The mad shooting began. The employees of group of capture have shot all cartridges from pistols at interior of the plane have not got to sighting (in the terrorists not impact), have received wounds from fire of the terrorists and have disappeared in a cabin of the pilots, having closed a door. In result from bullets of "rescuers" 4 passengers were wounded. In the plane the explosion was distributed and the plane has lit up. The passengers began to jump downwards. Below employees of group of a cover were threw over the passengers, in some began to shoot, to beat. As a result of operation 4 passengers were lost, 5 terrorists were lost, 19 passengers are wounded, the p
lane has burned down.
Saratov, May 10, 1989
Four criminals which are taking place in investigator isolator, during walk, threatening a self-made knife, have grasped of two employees of isolator and two minors under investigation. The requirements: 4 pistols, 10 thousand rubles, automobile and opportunity of unobstructed travel. The local management was not prepared for negotiating and almost without effort has given back to the terrorists the microbus with a complete fill by petrol, pistol PM and 24 cartridges to him. The terrorists have let out one woman and one teenager. The gangsters have released in city. Soon second woman have thrown out from the machine. The gangsters beat her and when she have found, she was without consciousness. The gangsters shot where has got, created auto-crashes, have grasped else one hostage - witness on one of the gangsters and then have disappeared. The next day they were found out in an apartment in an apartment house. They had new hostages - family from three men (father, mother and daughter 2 years). The requirements: The plane, start abroad, vodka, drugs, there are a lot of money. At this time in Saratov has arrived Alfa. Negotiation with the terrorists came into impasse. The employees of Alfa have carried out a reconnoitering - have examined similar apartments, have made the plan of assault. The snipers observed of moving of the terrorists. After a signal the employees of group have flown in an apartment through windows, using climbing systems and have thrown apartment flash bang-grenades. Other group of capture, using ram, has rushed through a door. The gangster had time (was in time) two shoot at the employees from a pistol, but the bullets have got in armored panel. All terrorists were neutralized. Nobody has suffered - neither employees, nor hostages, gangsters.
Sukhumi city, August 11, 1990
Seven arrested criminals were in isolator of the temporary contents, have grasped in the hostages of three employees of isolator. Then they have freed 68 under investigation and condemned. The weapon, withdrawn from criminals, - about 3 thousand (rifle, pistols, gun) and cartridges - 24 thousand was stored in this isolator. Three days be ordered negotiation. The terrorists required the microbus. In this microbus have put flash bang-device. Other such devices have put in a court yard of isolator. The employees of Alfa were divided into three groups: 1 assault the microbus, 2 and 3 - rush into isolator. One of the gangsters has examined the microbus. After that ten criminals and two hostages began to sit in the microbus. Both the criminals and hostages were in masks with cuts for eyes. The snipers could not shoot. Flash bang-device should work at once after of a beginning of movement of the microbus, but the automobile has passed near 10 meters before it has worked. While the Groups overcame these 10 meters; the criminals have opened fire on the employees of Alfa. Already in the automobile one of the employees of Alfa was wounded. One of the gangsters has shot at him. The bullet has got between body armor and helmet in a neck. But the bullet was of caliber of 5, 6 mm and consequently the employee of Alfa has remained is alive. All gangsters in the microbus were neutralized. 2 and 3 groups have blown up a door and hatch in isolator. In isolator group of capture of Alfa have got under shots of the gangsters, but soon all gangsters have surrendered. The hostages have not suffered; one employee of Alfa was wounded.
At the end of 80 parts of the employees of Alfa constantly there was in “hot points " - Tbilisi (Georgia), Baku (Azerbaijan), Stepanakert, Kishinyov (Moldova) etc. Was conducted some operations on struggle with the organized criminality, with extortionists. In May 1990 the operation on detention of the sellers of the weapon is conducted. In August - liquidation of an armed gang in Yerevan (Armenia). In this operation has happened skirmish to the gangsters. 3 gangsters were killed, 2 are wounded, and 6 are held back.
Vilnius, night 12 - January 13, 1991
Group Alfa used in assault of committee on TV and broadcasting, television TV-tower and the center of broadcasting. In Vilnius city 67 employees of Alfa left. In assault of each object used 21 - 25 employees. This night on streets of city send tens thousand aggressively adjusted and exited people. In plenty the "national means of a defense " - bottle with fuel, stones sharpened metal rods were prepared ". Were dear in city are blocked by transport. Into city have entered army. From the named objects on all Lithuania were transmitted provocative TV and radio program. In these buildings there were armed supporters of movement "Saudis". By the plan of a management of operation the tanks should free a way for the employees. Subdivisions Para and MVD - to push aside the people from objects and to ensure to the employees of Alfa pass to objects. The employees of Alfa should interrupt broadcasting of the programs and non-admission a conclusion out of operation of equipment on these objects. One of the main requirements - non-admission of victims among the population. But the tanks and paratroopers were late for 40 minutes. Before the telecentre has collected 5 - 6 thousand city dwellers. The employees of Alfa (25 men) have approached by lorries to crowd, have thrown flash bang - grenade and have rushed into crowd. The employees beat, they in the answer waved rifle butts. As have reached up to parapet, which were perfectly covered here again on the employees of Alfa have opened fire from the next buildings and from crowd. One of shots made of crowd, has got in one of the employees of Alfa, having punched body armor. The employee else had time (was in time) to run in a building of the telecentre and there has died. Eight employees of Alfa could rise on the second floor and interrupt transfer from studio.
In a building TV-tower the employees of Alfa were met by guards, which has used against them fire-hoses with cold water. The ladders and doors were barricaded furniture and self-made explosive devices. The shots were sometimes distributed. A circle has appeared bottles with petrol. Against the employees the guards has used bats, rods, heavy subjects. All security guards had gas masks and, when the employees of Alfa have held the first floor, the fire-prevention system was included and in premises (rooms) began to move gas Freon. Five employees constrained onslaught of crowd at an entrance. The leaders in crowd - drunk, furious young people. One of the employees has thrown flash bang grenade. It has enabled to supersede crowd from the first floor. In the morning on a building of a teletower conducted strong automatic fire. The employees of Alfa left a teletower on armored personnel carriers. On a road at a column have fired, on one of armored personnel carriers someone has!
Brought down concrete detail, another BTR tried to set fire. The employees of Alfa have carried out the put orders, not having made any shot battle cartridge (the automatic devices were charged non-lethal cartridges) and have lost one employee. In the morning, January 14, president USSR M. S. Gorbachyov has declared, that he does not know about events in Vilnius and any orders he gave back nobody.
Moscow, August, 1991
At 4 o'clock in the morning of August 19 on a team of the chief KGB the employees Alfa in quantity(amount) 60 men have gone away to a village "Archangels" (30 kilometers from Moscow, a governmental summer residence there placed, in which was B. N. Elzin). Have stopped in 3 kilometers from a village at 4.40 and began to wait for the further instructions (indications). On a governmental summer residence the members of the Russian government collected: Luzhkov, Ruzkoy, Hasbulatov, Sobchak, Poltoranin and others. At 9.30 from a governmental summer residence the train has gone away: 2 automobiles "SIL" and 2 "Volga" with guards. They have passed by automobiles of the employees of Alfa. Having left in support to guards of a governmental summer residence 15 men, the employees of Alfa have set off after a train. The order on arrest Elzin was not. The troops of army were entered into Moscow. In city the crowds of the people collected, built barricades. On TV and radio the application GKChP (General committee on a state of emergency) were transmitted that Gorbachyov is sick also duties of the president pass to vice-president Yanaev. Elzin has issued the Decrees, has addressed to the people of Russia, has named actions of GKChP as illegal revolution. Many people have collected at a building of the Russian parliament, where was Elzin and they were ready to defend a building of parliament. GKChP consist of the ministers led by the prime minister. The morning of August 20 before the commander of group Alfa put an order from GKChP - together with subdivisions of army and MVD to assault a building of the Russian parliament, to grasp the Russian government. At 14 hours of August 20 in the ministry of a defense the meeting was held, the problems on realization of assault were put. The assault should be held at the night. The employees and commanders of Alfa were in a heavy situation. Why there was no order on arrest of all Russian government on a governmental!
Summer residence? Then it was possible to arrest at once everything, without noise and problems. Now to group command to assault parliament, which became a symbol of democracy, around of which thousand people, barricade. To carry out the order? Whereas to name this operation? Antiterrorist? But in parliament not the terrorists. The legal ministers also command too. As a result of assault there would be tens victims. To carry out the order - to make a crime, to not carry out the order - too crime. Whether has rescued then Alfa democracy in Russia (or as now speak - partocracy (from "kommunism party"), the replaced coloring) - it is not known. But it is unequivocal - Alfa has rescued life of the people, and those who was around a building of parliament, and those who was inside. Two hours prior to assault the commander of Alfa has called commander of paratroops P. S. Grachov also has told, that the group Alfa in assault to act will not be. Commander of paratroops has answered, that too withdraws subdivisions of paratroops from Moscow. The putsch
proceeded 3 days. After putsch the commander of Alfa have removed (taken off) from a post. Group resubordinated to guards of the president, though it at all not she purpose (assignment).
Moscow, October 4, 1993
To the employees of groups Alfa and Vimpel the order - was put to assault a building of parliament. In a building there were employees of the Russian parliament and their armed supporters. At assault there would be many victims. At 5 hours of October 4 per a study of B. N. Elzin came the chief of senior management of guards and chief of guards of the president with the request to meet the employees of groups Alfa and Vimpel. Elzin has told that he is held, and the groups have put order - let carry out. In 30 minutes the chief of guards again has asked Elzin to meet the employees of groups. Elzin has met them and has asked: “you are ready to carry out the order of the president?” In the answer - silence. Then the president has asked: “you refuse to carry out the order of the president?” In the answer - again silence. The president has left, not having told word. The group Alfa was put forward to a building of parliament. The employees of Alfa send on the area before a building at 14.55. Using devices of amplification (strengthening) of speech the employees have agreed with the defense counsels of parliament upon the miss (passing) in a building of the representative of Alfa. Two employees of Alfa have passed in a building and have declared to the employees of parliament that Alfa it is ordered to assault parliament and the employees are obliged to carry out the order. The employees of Alfa have offered to deduce the employees of the parliament which has thrown the weapon, from a building and guaranteed their safety. At 15.50, when 2 employees of Alfa were in a building of parliament and the parliament already surrendered, from the next house the grenade launcher has shot, machine-gun fire has opened, began to shoot tanks. The employees of Alfa, which were on the area, signals hands and on a radio station.
At this time three employees of Alfa approached on a building of parliament on BMP. On a road they have seen killed and wounded. The employees of Alfa began to load wounded in BMP. A shot of the sniper at this time has sounded. The bullet has got in one of the employees of Alfa. On a road to hospital the employee has died.
The employees of Alfa at a building of parliament have organized an alive corridor and on him from a building of parliament send his (its) defense counsels.
After these events the group "Vimpel" was disbanded. The commander of Alfa was dismissed also group have discharged from guards of the president. Group have ceased to attract in antiterrorist operations or attracted in realization of the completely hopeless tasks (for example, Budyonnovsk, 1995). The employees of group worked in operations on detention of criminals, struggle with the dealers with drugs, weapon...
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