Viktor Mikhailovich Chebrikov (Russian: Виктор Михайлович Чéбриков; 27 April 1923 – 2 July 1999) was a Soviet public official and security administrator and head of the KGB from December 1982 to October 1988.
Life and career
Born in the industrial city of Dnipropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine on 27 April 1923, he finished military school in 1942 and served in World War II as a battalion commander. After the war Chebrikov wanted to continue his military career, but was refused by the prestigious Frunze Military Academy because of his bad eyesight; abandoning his military ambitions, he earned an engineering degree, joined the Communist Party in 1950, and embarked on a political-administrative career, rising through the Ukrainian party ranks until he became First Secretary of the Dnipropetrovsk Party Committee in 1961. In 1967, he was brought to Moscow as personnel manager for the Central Committee. He was Deputy chairman of the KGB under Yuri Andropov from 1968-1982. They began an anti-corruption drive that continued until Andropov's death. Following a brief period under Konstantin Chernenko, Chebrikov was appointed head of internal security under Mikhail Gorbachev.
Through information supplied by American spy Aldrich Ames, Chebrikov was able to dismantle the network of CIA operatives in his country. Chebrikov was highly respected for his skills among his American counterparts; according to Kenneth E. deGraffenreid, the senior White House intelligence official in the Reagan years: "One has to say that this (Chebrikov's years as KGB chief) was the heyday of the KGB in terms of foreign intelligence. In terms of intelligence production -spies, and dishing the Americans on the secrets- they were going strong right up to the end. We uncovered 80 spies during those years. These guys were on the make, and there was no question about their influence."
In 1992, Russian president Boris Yeltsin disclosed five top-secret memos dating from a few weeks after the downing of KAL 007 in 1983. The memos contained Soviet communications from Chebrikov and Defence Minister Dmitriy Ustinov to head of state Yuri Andropov that indicated that they knew the location of KAL 007's wreckage while they were simulating a search and harassing the American Navy; they had found the sought-after flight data recorder on 20 October 1983 (50 days after the incident), and had decided to keep this knowledge secret, the reason being that the tapes could not unequivocally support their firmly-held view that KAL 007's flight to Soviet territory was a deliberately planned intelligence mission.
Due to differing views regarding reforms, in October 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev replaced Chebrikov with General Vladimir Kryuchkov (who in 1991 attempted a coup against Gorbachev).