First Department

First Department

The First Department (Первый отдел, Pervyj Otdel) was in charge of secrecy and political security of the workplace of every enterprise or institution of the Soviet Union that dealt with any kind of technical or scientific information (plants, R&D institutions, etc.) or had printing capabilities (e.g., publishing houses).

Every branch of the Central Statistical Administration and its successor the State Statistics Committee (Goskomstat) also had a First Department to control access, distribution, and publication of official economic, population, and social statistics. Copies of especially sensitive documents were numbered and labeled or stamped as secret or “For official use only” (Для служебного пользования). In some cases, the “official use” version of documents mimicked the public use versions in format but provided much more detailed information. [A description of the operations of the First Department within statistical offices can be found in Barbara A. Anderson, Kalev Katus, and Brian D. Silver, “Developments and Prospects for Population Statistics in Countries of the Former Soviet Union,” "Population Index" 60, No. 1 (Spring 1994): 4-20.]

The first departments reported to KGB and were not subordinated to the management of the enterprise or institution.

Among its functions was control of access to information considered state secret, of foreign travel, and of publications.

Also, the First Department kept account of the usage of copying devices (xerographers, printing presses, typewriters, etc.) to prevent unsanctioned copying, including samizdat.


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