MOSCOW -- The KGB, traditionally distinguished by monolithic loyalty to the Soviet leadership, is showing increasing signs of splitting into pro-reform and anti-reform factions under pressure from media scrutiny and a multiparty system.
A small but growing number of current and former officers of the powerful intelligence and security agency are going public with criticism of its operations, while the KGB brass continues to insist that no internal reform is needed.
"Unquestionably, there has appeared a division within the KGB," said Alexander A. Milchakov, a Moscow journalist who has regular contact with KGB employees in his research on mass graves of victims of Stalin-era executions.
Yesterday, four current KGB officers published an extraordinary blast against their employer in the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.
"We are aware that in our poverty-stricken state, the KGB, having great experience in the battle against democratic forces, remains a terrible weapon in the hands of the Communist Party leadership in its battle against its own people," the four KGB men wrote in their letter to the 22-million-circulation daily.
The officers, two majors and two lieutenant colonels holding important posts in the KGB's national headquarters, called for stripping the party of its control of the KGB as well as the army and police.
They said that despite the removal of the Communist Party's legal monopoly on power from the constitution in March, "the organs of statesecurity remain up to the present 'the armed detachment of the party' [an old propaganda phrase] or more precisely, of the party apparat."
On Tuesday, after a bitter debate, the Soviet parliament approved a law that permits party units to remain in the army, police and KGB but says officers should be guided by the law and not by party decisions. Progressives seeking to break the party's control over the military and security forces considered the final version of the law a defeat.
Signing the letter to Komsomolskaya Pravda were Maj. V. Bulychev and Lt. Col. Vladimir Morozov of the KGB's Chief Directorate; and Maj. S. Voronin and Lt. Col. A. Kichikhin of the Directorate for the Defense of the Soviet Constitutional System, which last year replaced the 5th Directorate, notorious for its involvement in repression of dissent.
Colonel Morozov first spoke out in the same newspaper in August, saying that he and several other officers had prepared an alternative to the official draft bill on state security and the KGB. He also said that KGB personnel, whose number remains secret, could be reduced by half with no harm to state security.
The most sensational of the "internal defectors" to date is retired Gen. Oleg D. Kalugin, a former top intelligence official who began tocriticize the agency early this summer.
fTC He was attacked by KGB Chairman Vladimir A. Kryuchkov, stripped of his honors and his pension and targeted with a criminal investigation to determine whether his public revelations had violated secrecy laws.
Mr. Kalugin responded by filing a series of lawsuits -- and by running successfully for a parliamentary seat. Now a hero to much of the Russian public, he claims he has the private support of many KGB officers who resent the political use of the agency.
Mr. Milchakov, the researcher of Stalinist burial sites, said in an interview this week that while the KGB officially has given him not a single scrap of information, individual agents and retirees have helped him on the basis that they remain anonymous.
Among the latest were two retired employees of the NKVD, the KGB's predecessor, who drove trucks loaded with corpses of political arrestees shot in cellars near the Lubyanka, the secret police headquarters in central Moscow. They filled in details of the machinery of mass murder operating in the late 1930s.
Despite public statements from the KGB's chief, Mr. Kryuchkov, and other officials that the agency wants to uncover the full truth about the Stalinist terror, the agency has done nothing to aid Mr. Milchakov's work. Last summer, the KGB officially announced that it had identified some mass graves -- but they were among the sites identified and written about months before by Mr. Milchakov.
"Part of the leadership thinks such publications [about Stalinist terror] don't help stabilize society, and that they cast a shadow over their work today," Mr. Milchakov said.