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Report #014 08/01/2000

A recent advertisement for the magazine indicated an upcoming issue will contain a detailed article on "How Wavelength Division Multiplexing will revolutionize telecommunications". This could be an interesting read!

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.

Gordievsky stated there were three separate groups of Russian Illegal Agents. The "sleeper" type resided in the West but did very little operational work or none at all. The intent was for them to be activated if there was a major East-West conflict. "Active" illegals also resided abroad and were engaged in gathering intelligence plus the recruitment and running of agents. The third group, Moscow based, were on standby for temporary duty assignment abroad as required. These illegals were usually used for specific operational tasks, meeting an agent or for special recruitment efforts.

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 author was in charge of the security of the Russian cipher communications worldwide so he had inside knowledge of details regarding the various cipher systems in use.
REGULAR: Manual system used at low traffic volume sites
RESIDENT: His personal cipher
EMERGENCY: Used when other ciphers destroyed or compromised
TEMPORARY: Used at newly opened embassy when secure "Referenturas" not yet available
MINIATURE: Used by communicator attached to delegation such as Olympic team
SUPERMINIATURE: Used by "illegals" and other field agents

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".
NOTE: Both books used as references were published prior to the realignment of activities and subsequent formation of the Foreign IOntelligence Service (SVR) and the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (FAPSI) thus the older organizational designators such as KGB were then in use.

Several interesting incidents took place in late July. The first was on 14501 kHz at 27/1710 where I found the Cuba relay site with what appeared to be a very excited ETFNJX TKAGAS callup with frequent inclusions of TOETO ETTO and TTIM. At 1715 the callup ceased and the carrier was taken off the air. I commenced searching and found the relay site now calling with the ETFNJX etc sequence on 17414 kHz at 1720. The transmission continued for about 5 minutes and then stopped. I carefully scanned through the bands but did not detect any additional calling or message transmission. Now the 17414 kHz freq has been used in the past for KRN skeds. Since the 27th was a Thursday and the KRN sked was now a once per week Thursday sked I checked 17414 at 1735 and noted the usual QRU broadcast. If Cuba had been calling on the KRN freq apparently with traffic and I did not find such traffic being sent, why did the sked broadcast indicate QRU??

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.
NOTE: For further information on FAPSI communications, see the Digital Digest column in the August 2000 issue of MONITORING TIMES magazine.

JULY LOGGINGS in kHz order with comments and UTC date/time
329 LLE, West Bend (Municipal - Kettle Moraine), WI at 06/1919
359 UES, Waukesha (County), WI at 06/1904
368 OH, Chicago (O'Hare - Leana), IL at 06/1907
371 RYV, Watertown (Municipal - Rock River), WI at 06/1906
379 UG, Waukegan (Memorial - Wauke), IL at 07/0201
389 EN, Kenosha (Municipal - Pride), WI at 06/1910
410 MK, Milwaukee (Mitchell Field - Cappy), WI AT 06/1911
Note: The above beacons and markers were monitored at Waukesha, WI

363 RNB, Millville (Municipal - Rainbow), NJ at 20/1855
407 OX, Ocean City (Municipal - Resort), MD at 20/1849
Note: The above two items were monitored at Cedar Shores, DE

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
13418 Cuban cut nbrs in auto Morse at 05/1833
15883 U/i stn in RTTY 75/491 w/enciphered transmission at 05/1831
16121 U/i stn in RTTY 75/850 w/enciphered xmsn at 05/2047
16263 U/i stn in RTTY 75/850 w/enciphered xmsn at 05/2044
16950 RFTJE, French Navy, Dakar, Senegal w/test tape in RTTY 75/850 at 05/2040

Click here for index of previous editions of Radio Intrigue

2000 Don Schimmel.