Located on the on the 23rd floor of the high-rise Viru Hotel in the Estonian city of Tallinn are strange “stacks of metal cases with black knobs and dials [that] look like something from a 1950s sci-fi movie — in fact, they were once highly secret communications equipment used by the feared Soviet secret police, the KGB,” during the Cold War, Reuters reported.
The devices and high-tech gadgets, no longer being used to spy on high-profile Western guests and visiting heads of state, are now on display in a museum exhibition called “Viru Hotel and the KGB,” noted TG Daily
. The exhibit — located in the same “radio room” of the Viru Hotel which the KGB once used to relay highly classified KGB communiqués from Estonia to the Soviet Embassy in Helsinki, Finland — showcases the highly secretive world of the Soviet Union’s infamous intelligence network.
“All we have here now is the room as they left it one night in 1991 when Estonia was getting close to restoring its independence,” observed Viru Hotel spokesman Peep Ehasalu.
Reuters outlined the hotel’s service record as a KGB outpost:
The radio room became very busy in 1975, when it was used as a hotline relay for Soviet leaders between Moscow and Helsinki during the European Security and Disarmament Conference held in the Finnish capital.
Activity increased also in 1980, when Tallinn was the venue for the yachting competition for the Olympic Games, which was hosted that year by the Soviet Union.
At the time, Estonia was not its own “autonomous” state within the Warsaw Pact, but was instead an integral part of the USSR as a Soviet republic much as Russia and the Ukraine were. As a result of this annexed arrangement, Estonia did not have its own intelligence network, and thus was under the jurisdiction of the Soviet KGB.
The other Warsaw Pact states had their own intelligence networks, which in reality were run by the KGB and used as extensions to conduct the long-term objectives and subversive intelligence of the Soviet Union.
Ladislav Bittman, an intelligence officer for the Czechoslovak State Security (the StB), who defected to the United States, wrote in his book The KGB and Soviet Disinformation (1985) the following about the intelligence services of the Eastern bloc satellites:
Terrorist organizations would not be able to survive for long periods without outside support. The Soviet Union, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Cuba have provided various kinds of assistance to terrorists, including weapons, ammunition and explosives, military training, financing, and sanctuaries where they could plan their operations undisturbed or communicate safely with other terrorist groups.
From the Soviet KGB to the Eastern bloc satellites' intelligence services, and to the various communist left-wing terrorist groups in Western Europe (e.g., the Red Army Faction in West Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy), the Soviet Union’s reach over Europe was strong and still remains so.
In a 2009 New American magazine article entitled “The Lies That Blind,” William F. Jasper writes of the continued KGB penetration in Eastern Europe:
KGB operatives who have been exposed in top positions of the “post-Soviet” European countries include Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy; Polish President Aleksander Kwaniewski; Lithuanian Prime Minister Antanas Valionis; Lithuania’s head of State Security, Aryydas Pocius; Hungarian Finance Minister and Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy; Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn; and Bulgarian President Georgi Sedefchov Parvanov.
Because Russia’s measures are still active in Eastern Europe, the Viru Hotel exhibit is not a relic of a past era, but rather a look back at the first phase of Moscow’s continued long-term strategic plans.
Photo: High rise buildings look over the Old Town of Talinn, Estonia.