The anti-terror subdivision Group “A” was founded on July 29, 1974 on the initiative of Yury Andropov, the Chairman of the KGB (the Committee of the State Security) of the USSR, and Aleksey Beschastny, the Chief of the KGB Seventh Department of the USSR. Before 1985 the top secret subdivision was personally subordinated to the management of the KGB of the USSR.
Before 1991 its full name was Group “A” of the Service ODP of the KGB Seventh Department of the USSR. Initially the staff did not exceed forty. It was mainly staffed by the KGB members with a special training and able on the state of health to perform the military service in the VDV (the Air- Landing Forces).
The principal purpose of Group “A” is the struggle against terrorism and other extremist actions connected with the capture of hostages in means of transportation and other socially important establishments.
On the first stage of its history the subdivision represented one of the most perfect creation of the Soviet civilization – a unique weapon the main element of which was not machinery but specially trained people “able to do that which an ordinary man can do and a bit more”.
Perfect technical characteristics were not enough to create such a unique weapon. The effective social organization staffed by the best specially trained officers with the feeling of duty was necessary. Only the first some years of the subdivision existence passed in order to search for an ideal model of such an organization.
The storm of the Palace Thadge-Bek in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, in 1979 was the test that showed that the unique weapon had been available in the USSR. The storm, which was realized at the shortest time under a huge numerical superiority of the enemy and minimal losses, showed an extraordinary potential of the new subdivision. The event marked the birth of Group “A” as a unique military subdivision.
At the moment of the USSR’ collapse the subdivision was staffed by 200 officers. After the Soviet Union disintegration Group “A” was included in the Central Department of Protection (CDP) of the RF. Before 1993 along with other tasks Group “A” provided protection of the President of the RF. In 1991 during the August putsch the Group refused to storm the White House, and in October 1993 during the period of the power crisis it played a special role.
The epoch of “Alpha” has been continued for 29 years. During this time traditions of the Russian officer’corps and the Group were maintained in its ranks. Namely the unity of many professionals who are able to act as an indivisible organism is necessary to solve the most difficult tasks. The service in the unique subdivision does not provide with an individual training but gives the main thing – a faculty to work in a team, catch the meaning of each other at once and feel the common responsibility for the work. First of all “Alpha” is a high level of the moral unity of people, the feeling of duty and the faculty to take non-standard decisions in an extreme situation.
The officers who serviced in the Group and in a civil life adhere to these principals. In this connection there was a creation of the real club of veterans of the anti-terror subdivision Group “A”. The aim of the organization is an intercourse and a joining up of veterans and members who served in the subdivision in the eighties and those who is now on the front edge of the struggle against terrorism. It is the union of those who are not indifferent to the future of the officer’ elite of state security services and the memory of the heroes who was killed while taking up their duties.
The colonel Victor Shatskikh (his sun, an officer of Group “A”, was killed by a shot in the back in January 1991 in Vilnus) said that the word “Alpha” is firmly associated in people consciousness neither with the financial group of the same name nor with any spaceship but the absolutely concrete anti-terror subdivision. After all thinkable and unthinkable operations it has been Alpha of Russia for a long time.