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RETIRED KGB OFFICER STRIPPED OF HIS RANK

SHARE RETIRED KGB OFFICER STRIPPED OF HIS RANK

President Mikhail Gorbachev stripped a retired KGB major general of his rank and government honors Saturday for saying publicly the Soviet security agency still uses dirty tricks and spies on innocent people.

The official Soviet press has published several attacks on Maj. Gen. Oleg Kalugin since he began giving speeches and interviews two weeks ago charging that the KGB is still a repressive agency that, despite claims to the contrary, has not reformed under Gorbachev.The KGB itself issued an unusual press release denouncing Kalugin and hinting his work was suspect long before he retired in March. It did not explain why, if the agency doubted his ability, Kalugin was given so many decorations and promoted to head the department of foreign counter-intelligence.

"A special presidential decree, issued at the request of the Soviet Committee of State Security (KGB), stripped Kalugin of government awards for actions discrediting the honor and dignity of a state security officer," the official Tass news agency said.

Kalugin was also stripped of his military rank and "other privileges," Tass said.

The retired KGB officer first came to public attention when he told the Democratic Platform bloc of radical communists two weeks ago that his former agency was trying to fool the public into thinking it had reformed.

In subsequent interviews with both Soviet and Western journalists, Kalugin charged that the KGB still spies on new political parties and workers' groups and participated in an official plot to discredit populist politician Boris Yeltsin.

Kalugin spent 30 years as a KGB agent, working his way up from the cover of a Radio Moscow correspondent in New York to deputy chief of the KGB mission in Washington and later to top posts in Moscow and Leningrad.

Kalugin said he was forced to retire in March because of a dispute with party leaders and an outspoken letter to Gorbachev. The official Communist Party newspaper Pravda said "the peculiarities of Kalugin's character did not allow him to withstand the test of responsibility."

Pravda made a number of vague allegations against Kalugin on Thursday, saying dozens of foreign agents were discovered after his retirement, although it did not say he was connected with any of them.

"Now honest people work in the KGB," Pravda said. "They fulfill all the Soviet laws and are devoted to their work."