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Counter-Terrorism in a Police State : The KGB and Codename Blaster, 1977


  • Harrison, Mark

    (Department of Economics, University of Warwick ; Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham ; Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University)


The paper provides a rare case study of terrorism and counter-terrorism within a closed society, carried out under a blanket of official secrecy. This case is unexpectedly revealing in what it tells us about terrorism, counterterrorism, and the relative strengths of open and closed societies. Documents from the archive of the Lithuania KGB show how the Soviet authorities managed the hunt for the perpetrators of bombing attacks carried out in Moscow in January 1977. Lithuania, a sensitive border region with a troubled history, was far distant from the epicenter of the conspiracy in Soviet Armenia, but the authorities did not know this beforehand, and made considerable efforts to establish or rule out a Lithuanian connection. It was a problem that the KGB, like other Soviet organizations, was vulnerable to boxchecking and other kinds of perfunctory working to the plan. The career concerns of regional KGB leaders appear to have countered this tendency. The paper evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of a counter-terrorist operation carried out under conditions of the intense secrecy that was normal in the Soviet police state.

Suggested Citation

  • Harrison, Mark, 2009. "Counter-Terrorism in a Police State : The KGB and Codename Blaster, 1977," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 918, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:918

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Harrison & Inga Zaksauskienė, 2016. "Counter-intelligence in a command economy," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(1), pages 131-158, February.
    2. Michael Brzoska & Raphael Bossong & Eric van Um, 2011. "Security Economics in the European Context: Implications of the EUSECON Project," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 58, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item


    Career Concerns ; Homeland Security ; Moral Hazard ; Secrecy ; Terrorism. JEL Codes: H56 ; K42 ; N44.;

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-

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