MOSCOW — The KGB shadowed Russia's top leaders, including President Boris N. Yeltsin, for two years before last August's hard-line coup attempt, a former Soviet secret police officer said Monday.
Viktor Ivanenko, former head of the Russian Federation's KGB, said he believes Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev was aware of the operations.
Ivanenko told Russia's Constitutional Court that former Soviet KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov had even ordered bugging of telephones of fellow coup leaders for days leading up to the failed putsch.
"In 1989, the KGB took under covert observation Boris Yeltsin, (Yeltsin aide) Gennady Burbulis, (then-Russian Prime Minister) Ivan Silayev and a number of other key political figures," including Gorbachev aide Alexander Yakovlev and then-Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze, Ivanenko said.
Ivanenko, speaking at a hearing on Yeltsin's banning of the Communist Party after the coup, said the orders came personally from Kryuchkov.
But he said Gorbachev had at least been aware of the bugging.
Yeltsin and his team had been in opposition to Gorbachev, who launched political reforms in the former Soviet Union that weakened Communist rule.