Other Radio Hobbies
Report #014 08/01/2000
MIT "TECHNOLOGY" MAGAZINE
I am repeating some material which appeared in the April 1999 issue of RADIO INTRIGUE. I am doing this because the described procedures and details are very informative and many are probably still in use today.
COMRADE KRYUCHKOV'S INSTRUCTIONS by Andrew and Gordievsky
The Moscow Center usually sent instructions to the illegals in one-way encoded radio transmissions which could be heard on a common World Band radio. Replies to the Center from the illegals are evidently most often sent to an accommodation address where the letter may be repackaged, readdressed, and remailed. If the letter drop is serviced by a KGB Officer from the Embassy, the material is probably passed on to Moscow in the diplomatic bag.
When a Residency receives a telegram, it is deciphered by a KGB cipher clerk who then takes it to the Resident (Officer-in-Charge). He indicates on the telegram the pseudonyms of those officers authorized to read it. The cipher clerk takes it to the specified officers and allows only a limited amount of time for each to read it.
Correspondence sent via the diplomatic bag to and from the Center and Residencies is on 35mm film and is read upon receipt on a microfilm reader. The book revealed that the Center frequently complains to the Residencies regarding the excessive use of cipher telegrams plus poor telegram drafting practices.
Appendix B of the book identifies EXTRAORDINARY as being the highest message precedence and URGENT the next lower precedence. There was no indication of additional lower precedences but they surely must have had something to represent perhaps ROUTINE and possibly another, lower yet, precedence.
TOWER OF SECRETS by Victor Sheymov
The "Referentura" mentioned above is a vaulted area with walls of reinforced concrete. Inside are reading rooms and soundproof rooms for conducting conversations of a sensitive nature. An innermost portion has separate rooms for the cipher clerks and cipher equipment for each component (KGB, GRU and embassy). There is also an inside vault which houses the safes of the three components. The crypto machine used by KGB, GRU, and MFA for communications to and from foreign posts was called the "apatit." Sheymov indicated that in a manual cipher system, a plaintext message was encoded by use of a code book. That version was next enciphered by cryptographic addition of numbers in random groups from a "gamma" (one-time pad). NOTE: These messages would seem to be the 5F group messages seen on the target frequencies.
According to Sheymov, the mechanics of the "apatit" machine provided "a change to a new conversion every month with one tuner (rotor??), every day with a second, and every five hundred strokes of the keyboard with the third".
FAPSI AMERICAS NETWORK
This next incident represented a first for me. I have copied countless out of sked callups with the use of the ETFNJX sequence sent by the Cuban HF relay site. But I had never in 20 years of following these Russian transmissions, intercepted a field station using that callup. On 13371 kHz at 28/1625 the field station of link 00125 sent the ETFNJX callup followed by calling MIG and indicating QTC. The Cuban site told the field to go ahead and the field commenced sending traffic.
Lastly, 14455 kHz was used by the Cuban relay site for the 31/2145 sked of link 00125 and he sent traffic to the field station who was on 13423 kHz.
JULY LOGGINGS in kHz order with comments and UTC date/time
363 RNB, Millville (Municipal - Rainbow), NJ at 20/1855
13373 Cuban cut numbers in auto Morse at 31/1816. At end of msg went into another msg . Down w/SK SK SK at 31/1837
For further information on numbers stations, and other mystery communications we recommend . . .
©2000 Don Schimmel.