In 1565, the ruthless Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible created a 6,000-member security force called the Oprichnina. Officers of the Oprichnina dressed all in black and rode black horses. They terrorized the Russian people, killing thousands whom they blamed for made-up acts of treason. Many rulers after Ivan also created their own security forces to spy on Russians at home or living outside the country. The Russian security forces of the 20th and 21st centuries—known at different times as the Cheka, NKVD, KGB, and SVR—have added to a long tradition of power, fear, and secrecy that began more than 400 years ago.
Read all about these formidable Russian intelligence agencies, their spy networks, and their surveillance operations around the world.